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Mel Gibson helps extend influence of Healing the Children

By Youmi Chun

Oct. 21, 2004 9:00 p.m.

The Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA and Cedars-Sinai
Medical Center received a $10 million donation last week from actor
and director Mel Gibson.

Five million dollars will go to the Mattel Children’s
Hospital and the remaining $5 million will be given to
Cedars-Sinai, for the purpose of funding organizations within the
hospitals which help children that live in foreign countries.

UCLA handles donations depending on what the donors want and
their interests. Celebrities and those interested in donating can
choose where the money is placed, said Roxanne Moster, a
spokesperson for UCLA Health Sciences.

“It depends on what the donor wants, you might write that
you want to be anonymous, but it’s ultimately dependent on
the donor’s individual decision.”

There are a variety of ways celebrities can donate money to
institutes at UCLA. While some wealthy celebrities may choose to
give an unrestricted gift which allows the university to allocate
funds where they deem most necessary, others may decide to direct
their gifts to a certain institute, according to the Campaign UCLA
Web site which provides information about donations made to

Examples of directed gifts include late 20s screen starlett
Marion Davies’ donation to a UCLA children’s hospital
in 1952. The hospital then donned the name of the Davies
Children’s Center, according to the UCLA Web site.

The hospitals and institutes who receive funding are able to
expand their services. Gibson’s recent donation is just one
example of the effects donations can have at UCLA.

Gibson directed portions of his donation to Healing the
Children, a non-profit organization which works with the Mattel
Hospital, said Dr. Edward McCabe, the physician-in-chief of the
Mattel Hospital and executive chair of the department of

“Healing the Children is a non-profit organization
dedicated to finding children all over the world who cannot receive
the medical help they need because the countries do not offer the
medical care,” said Jenny Hull, a volunteer with Healing the

The organization which began in 1979 brings children to the
United States to receive critical care.

Chris Embleton, who founded the organization, said: “Our
goal is simply to unite medical care with sick and injured
children. We have seen for ourselves how willing hands and hearts
can make this world a better place for children.”

Embleton brings children that need surgery to hospitals in the
United States and then sends them back, working as a mediator
between child and hospital. Some of the bases include Ecuador,
Guatemala, Mongolia and the West Indies.

The child’s eligibility is based on whether the condition
is operable, as well as how serious the condition is and how it
impacts the child’s life. The stability of the child is also
taken into consideration.

Hull, a volunteer for four years and a foster mother to one of
the two conjoined Quiej Alvarez twins from Guatemala which were
operated upon at the UCLA Medical Center last year, was
enthusiastic about the donation and the fact that more aid can be
given to needy children.

“It’s heartbreaking. You can imagine what the
children’s parents must have felt. There were some parents
who told us to take their children, just as long as they could get
the medical care they needed. This wonderful donation will allow us
to reach out and help. We’re thrilled to be able to do
something to help,” Hull said.

Hull said the Gibson family has been very supportive of the
Healing the Children foundation for years.

“They had a heart for children for a very long time, and
have been helping us to bring them over here as well as to send
them back to their countries. They saw that you can save kids and
that there are people here who really want to help. They were so
instrumental with getting the twins here and have come to respect
UCLA for their renown.”

McCabe said they very much appreciated the gift. “This is
a wonderful donation and will permit us to provide outstanding care
to kids who would otherwise be unable to receive help. We very much
appreciate it and it allows us to bring even more kids

For more information on donating, go to

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Youmi Chun
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