Inspired to action

March 19, 2015

Marc Tuchman, retired director of the UCI Student Center, and his wife Michelle donated the bronze Anteater that adorns the entrance to the center’s west food court. Steve Zylius / UC Irvine

Donors such as Marc and Michelle Tuchman give infants a fighting chance

Time is of the essence for infants struggling to survive a traumatic birth, which can starve the brain of oxygen. During the first few hours – when brain swelling is the critical concern – whole-body cooling can affect not only the baby’s survival, but also his or her quality of life for years to come.

This process immerses a baby’s body in a cool environment after delivery to slow circulation and prevent or reduce brain damage. If the process is started within six hours of birth, the infant has a much better outcome.

Thanks to the incredible generosity of donors like Marc and Michelle Tuchman and the dedication of hundreds of UCI students, alumni and staff members who participate in an annual fundraising event, newborns have a growing number of lifesaving resources like this on their side.

A few years ago, Marc Tuchman – the retired director of the UCI Student Center – and his wife, Michelle, decided they wanted to make a gift to the university that would have a lasting impact. The neonatal intensive care unit at UC Irvine Medical Center was one of the locations they toured in making their decision.

“Once you’ve visited the NICU and have seen these infants, your heart simply breaks for them. You can’t stand by and do nothing,” says Marc. “We were just so impressed with what the physicians, nurses and staff do there, along with their caring and devotion. As soon as Michelle and I left the unit, without saying a word to one another, we both knew that this was where we were going to put the resources that we’ll leave behind when we’re gone.”

The Tuchmans established an estate gift that will go to the NICU, providing resources for future technologies and programs that keep UC Irvine Health at the forefront of care for critically ill, premature and full-term infants.

Like the Tuchmans, many students and alumni have demonstrated compassion for the youngest among us as participants in the UCI Care-a-thon, an annual dance marathon in the same Student Center that Marc Tuchman helped to expand. The event dedicates proceeds to the NICU, home to the region’s only high-risk perinatal/neonatal program and only maternal-fetal transport system.

Since 2009, Care-a-thon participants have tallied thousands of hours of time on their feet and raised more $60,000 in support of the NICU babies. In 2014, more than 500 people danced the night away, raising enough money for the unit to purchase a new whole-body cooling system. (The event was opened to the public for the first time this year.) This system is small enough to use during transport, which means the cooling process can begin up to several hours before an infant is admitted.

As you enter the Student Center, where the Care-a-thon takes place, an Anteater donated by the Tuchmans adorns the entrance above the west food court; he’s a 12-foot bas-relief copy of a statue at the Bren Events Center. Marc dedicated 19 years of an accomplished career to the UCI Student Center. For the Tuchmans, the pledged estate gift is just one more example of their commitment to UCI.

“When I retired, I wanted to do something to thank the university for the best years of my career,” says Marc. “The Anteater was my way of showing my appreciation. In addition, Michelle and I decided to make a legacy gift to the NICU.”

To learn how to make a lasting impact like the Tuchmans’, contact Roland Ho, executive director of Planned Giving, at 949-824-6454.

Julie Bos / for UC Irvine

Pictured: Marc Tuchman, retired director of the UCI Student Center, and his wife, Michelle, donated the bronze Anteater that adorns the entrance to the center’s west food court. Photo by Steve Zylius / UC Irvine

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