Major-league Pitcher Cliff Lee Gives $1 Million to Arkansas Children's Hospital

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010 9:51 am  

The Lee family, Cliff, Kristen, Jaxon and Maci, with Dr. Robert L. Saylors III.

Major League Baseball pitcher Cliff Lee and his wife Kristen on Tuesday announced a $1 million donation to Arkansas Children’s Hospital of Little Rock.

The Lees gave the money in honor of their 9-year-old son Jaxon, who battled cancer at the hospital as an infant.

The donation will fund an endowed chair in pediatric hematology and oncology named for Jaxon and Jaxon's doctor, Dr. Robert L. Saylors III. Saylors will be the inaugural chair holder.

"Under the guidance of Dr. Saylors, Jaxon’s experience at Arkansas Children’s Hospital was fantastic," Kristen said in a news release. "We wanted to do something in honor of our son and in celebration of the man who saved his life. Dr. Saylors has given his life to doing research and helping kids, and we knew we wanted to do something to honor him that would last forever."

In 2001, Jaxon, then 4 months old, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a cancer that starts inside the bone marrow. He received treatment at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, spending four months undergoing chemotherapy, which did not fully eradicate the cancer.

When he was 10 months old, the Lee family traveled to San Antonio for a bone marrow transplant. ACH said Saylors oversaw every aspect of Jaxon’s treatment. Jaxon is now cancer-free.

Lee, who pitched for the Texas Rangers in this year's Major League Baseball World Series, is now a free agent. His contract ended with the Rangers after the World Series.

With the endowed chair, Saylors can designate the funds toward research, clinical support or education.

"We are very grateful to the Lees for providing this extraordinary and most generous gift," Dr. Jonathan Bates, president and CEO of ACH, said. "An endowed chair is one of the highest academic honors for the holder and assists ACH in attracting and retaining the highest quality physicians."

Saylors has been a pediatric oncologist at the hospital since 1993. He is an associate professor in the department of pediatrics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

The nonprofit Arkansas Children's Hospital is the only pediatric medical center in Arkansas and one of the largest in the country. It has about 500 physicians, 80 residents in pediatrics and pediatric specialties and more than 4,000 employees.

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