Grateful Parents

Published on 
December 10, 2018
Categories: 

Ryan Murphy and David Miller Give $10 Million to CHLA

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By Marla Lehner

Their generous gift will be recognized by the naming of the Ford Theodore Miller Murphy Floor in their son's honor.

Emmy Award-winning writer, director and producer Ryan Murphy is known for championing underrepresented groups in Hollywood, such as women, people of color and the LGBTQ community. In his personal life, too, Murphy channels his energy into causes that impact the lives of others. That's just one reason he and his husband, photographer David Miller, chose to make an extraordinary $10 million donation to Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

"We both love that Children's Hospital Los Angeles is committed to helping kids and families regardless of their financial status," says Murphy, who has produced a series of hit television shows, including "Glee," "American Horror Story," and "The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story." "The care CHLA provides is amazing, and they treat a huge number of families who are often overlooked and underserved in our society. David and I wanted to support that work"

To recognize the family's generosity, CHLA has named the fifth floor of the Marion and John E. Anderson Pavilion the Ford Theodore Miller Murphy Floor, in honor of Murphy and Miller's son Ford, age 4, who was successfully treated for cancer at CHLA.

"CHLA was the obvious choice for us when we learned of Ford's diagnosis. We needed a support system, and their experience with children and parents proved invaluable." — David Miller

"David and I, as well as Logan [the couple's older child], are immensely grateful for the care that CHLA provided not only to Ford, but to us as well," Murphy says. "His cancer diagnosis was one of life's unexpected moments, and the team at the hospital provided a comforting atmosphere in the midst of a trying situation."

At just 18 months old, Ford was diagnosed with neuroblastoma—a cancer often found in the adrenal glands that most commonly affects children ages 5 or younger—during a routine checkup with his pediatrician.

"CHLA was the obvious choice for us when we learned of Ford's diagnosis," says Miller. "We needed a support system, and their experience with children and parents proved invaluable."

Their generous gift will be recognized by the naming of the Ford Theodore Miller Murphy Floor in their son's honor. The motivating factor behind the couple's decision to make such a generous donation to CHLA, however, was not merely the care Ford received, but their belief in the hospital's goal to provide the highest-quality medical treatment to every child who needs it.

Core to CHLA's values is a dedication to serving vulnerable children and families in the community. A safety-net hospital, CHLA provides leading-edge health care to many underserved patients; more than 70 percent of the hospital's inpatients are insured by Medi-Cal. Moreover, CHLA serves one of the most ethnically diverse patient populations in the country, provides interpreting services in more than 34 languages and delivers culturally sensitive health care that is respectful to the needs of each family.

"We are thrilled to offer a significant donation to support CHLA so they can continue to provide care to those less fortunate financially," says Murphy. "Cancer affects us all."

Alexandra Carter, CHLA's senior vice president and chief development officer, says the gift reflects the family's interest in helping others and will provide important support in the effort to reach more children in need of specialized health care.

"Ryan Murphy and David Miller have a long and admirable history of championing underserved members of our community," says Carter. "Their values and commitment to help others along with their charitable support align with our hospital's mission to create hope and build healthier futures."

Supporting research and clinical care

Funds from Murphy and Miller's landmark gift will support the hospital's continued leadership in surgical oncology, neuroblastoma treatment and research conducted by the Children's Center for Cancer and Blood Diseases (CCCBD) at CHLA.

"The family's generosity will help us continue to provide lifesaving care to the patients we treat," says CHLA President and Chief Executive Officer Paul S. Viviano. "This gift reflects their dedication to improving the lives of children and families throughout the Los Angeles community."

A portion of the funds will be used to name an endowed chair in Surgical Oncology. The inaugural holder of the chair will be Chief Medical Officer James Stein, MD, MSc, FACS, FAAP, a nationally renowned surgeon who has been at CHLA since 1996. Stein's extensive experience in the surgical treatment of neuroblastoma and hepatoblastoma, as well as other childhood cancers, has been an integral component of CHLA's successful Solid Tumor and Neuroblastoma Programs.

"Dr. Stein and pediatric oncologist Dr. Araz Marachelian from the CCCBD saved our child's life," adds Murphy, "and we are forever thankful for that."

"I'm honored to be the inaugural chair in Surgical Oncology," says Stein. "Our hospital is one of the leading institutions in the nation for treating children with cancer. I deeply appreciate Ryan and David's generosity in supporting this important work for future generations of children."

The donation will also create the Ford Theodore Miller Murphy Neuroblastoma Endowment and support the greatest needs of the pediatric cancer program at CHLA, including clinical care, research and education. Led by Alan S. Wayne, MD, the nationally ranked CCCBD is the largest pediatric hematology, oncology and blood and marrow transplant program in the western United States. It also has one of the largest clinical trial programs in the nation for children with cancer and blood disorders.

"I often say that our work is a team sport," says Wayne. "The CCCBD's strength comes from individual excellence and team collaboration. Working together, our researchers, clinicians, nurses, staff and philanthropic partners allow us to deliver the best possible care and make extraordinary progress. I am extremely grateful to the Miller Murphy family for their generous and impactful investment in our work. Their support will improve the outcomes for children with cancer in the future."

The Ford Theodore Miller Murphy Floor in the Anderson Pavilion is dedicated to caring for medically and surgically acute patients of all ages. It is a calm and welcoming environment where children can recover surrounded by family, receive one-on-one care from Child Life specialists, and participate in art, music or dance therapy. The floor also features a Child Life playroom and the Creative Oasis, a space for music and art exploration.

Looking to the future

While Murphy is famous for effortlessly juggling multiple projects at once, he and Miller have also learned to savor each moment with their happy, healthy family. "Becoming a parent is life-changing," Murphy says. "Our experience with Ford has made us even more aware of how important it is to live in the moment and to appreciate each day together."

These days, Ford is doing well and loves playing with his older brother, Logan, 5. And the family is sharing their ordeal in the hope that others can find comfort in it.

"Ford is thriving in preschool, and he's been free and clear for over two years now," says Miller. "In sharing this story, I hope we can give other families hope and help them know they are not alone in the struggles they face." CHLA-Imagine-2016-Butterfly-Icon.png