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Patient Pays It Forward with Lifesaving Blended Gift

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Mike and Jackie Etemad support National Jewish Health for two reasons — the free-of-charge, lifesaving care Mike received in the 1950s and the cutting-edge research conducted today.

Shortly after immigrating to the U.S. from Iran, Mike was diagnosed with tuberculosis of the kidney. He  was given no feasible treatment options and, at best, 15 years to live — until someone recommended National Jewish Health. The hospital in Denver has been a leader in tuberculosis care since it opened in 1899, and did not charge any patient for care until 1970. The only requirement of Mike was that he purchase a round-trip ticket for his travels. That return ticket gave Mike hope, and nine months later, he returned to California a healthy man.

In the 65 years since, Mike met and married his wife Jackie. They started Mike’s currency exchange business, put Jackie through medical school and had children and grandchildren. Both have retired and continue to live happy, healthy and fulfilling lives. “Without National Jewish Health, none of these things would have happened,” Mike said. “Now it is my job to give back what I can.”

Mike and Jackie wrote a few donation checks while they were building their business and their family. “The first time we were able to make a significant contribution was when Mike sold his business,” Jackie said. “Since Mike was a patient, National Jewish Health had grown from a charity hospital for tuberculosis into an internationally-known research and care facility worthy of anyone’s philanthropy. So we set aside some of the proceeds from the sale of the business to put in a charitable remainder trust for the hospital.”

Mike and Jackie have also recently set up several charitable gift annuities benefiting National Jewish Health. Gordon Smith, associate vice president of development planned giving at National Jewish Health, helped them with this process and explained the tax benefits they would receive.

“The income-generating gifts are ways to ensure their charitable wishes are met by their estates, while increasing their income and creating a substantial tax deduction during their lifetimes,” Smith said.

Jackie explained, “If we liquidated our assets, we’d pay a lot of capital gains taxes. This way, we get a tax benefit and an income for the rest of our lives.”

In addition to these gifts, Mike and Jackie are working on a plan for a legacy gift to National Jewish Health. By supporting National Jewish Health through multiple avenues, Mike and Jackie are creating what is called a “blended gift.” The cash gifts fund current work of the hospital, while the trust, annuity and legacy gifts will finance future research and care.

“I give as much as I can to National Jewish Health in order to save the lives of others,” Mike said. “If the hospital had not been there for me, I would not have had the life I have.”


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