07:40 AM

Elizabeth J. Ferrell Fetal Health Center celebrates fifth birthday

Ferrell family donates $2 million to expand support for families expecting high-risk births

For the past five years, thanks to the Elizabeth J. Ferrell Fetal Health Center, families of many of the tiniest patients at Children's Mercy have had countless reasons to celebrate. Today Kansas City's nonprofit children's hospital celebrated Mrs. Ferrell's 75th birthday and a new $2 million gift from the Ferrell family.

Many families who have benefited from the center's care attended the announcement and transformed it into a surprise birthday party for Mrs. Ferrell. Keeping with that theme, the news of the endowed chair came as a surprise and honor to its first appointee, Timothy L. Bennett, MD, Medical Director of Fetal Health Services at Children's Mercy.

"While uncommon for babies to be born at a children's hospital, it's impossible to overstate the benefits for families giving birth to very high-risk infants," said Dr. Bennett, a maternal/fetal medicine specialist. "The Ferrell family's generosity assures these families that their newborn immediately receives the specialized care that a comprehensive children's hospital provides."

In 2010, Elizabeth J. and James E. Ferrell gave a generous gift that helped create the Fetal Health Center at Children's Mercy. With the center's opening, Children's Mercy became one of only a few children's hospitals in the country to offer comprehensive care, including on-site delivery, for babies with fetal anomalies. Today, the Center provides some of the most specialized care in the country for high-risk babies before, during and after delivery, including a fetal surgery program that launched in 2014 as the first of its kind in Kansas City. Now, the Ferrells are continuing their commitment to innovation in fetal medicine through the establishment of the Elizabeth J. Ferrell Chair in Maternal Fetal Medicine.

Since opening, the Elizabeth J. Ferrell Fetal Health Center has performed more than 450 deliveries and provided more than 1,000 integrated consults.

"We are humbled by the Ferrell family's generosity and continued confidence in Children's Mercy to provide the very best care in the nation for our newest babies and their families," said Jenea Oliver, Vice President of Philanthropy at Children's Mercy. "Thanks to the Ferrells' vision, there will be ongoing financial support for research and education that will continue the advancement of fetal medicine at Children's Mercy for generations to come."

James and Elizabeth (Zibbie) Ferrell have focused their family philanthropy on education and giving opportunities that help others help themselves. To honor Zibbie's love for children and their hospital, her family knew the perfect birthday present was establishing the Elizabeth J. Ferrell Chair in Maternal Fetal Medicine. Their belief that business success comes by acquiring top talent aligns with this strong Children's Mercy practice as well. Zibbie has devoted many years serving as a member of the Children's Mercy "Healthier Ever After" Campaign Cabinet, the Children's Mercy Central Governing Board, the Board of Advocates, and the Children's Relief Association, a Children's Mercy Auxiliary. She and their daughter, Kate, have also been active volunteers at the hospital.

An endowed chair is a prestigious faculty appointment established through a gift to the hospital foundation's endowment. The gift creates a fund that generates ongoing income, into perpetuity, to sustain groundbreaking research and innovative clinical care lead by the chair holder. These types of endowed chair appointments are vital to the hospital's ability to retain and attract nationally recognized physicians and scientists.