LITTLE ROCK -- The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) has established the Pamela Rakhshan Chair in Otolaryngology thanks to a $1 million gift from her father, Chris Rakhshan, in gratitude to the physician who saved her life. UAMS will name a professor to the Rakhshan Chair at a later time.
Rakhshan, of Boulder, Colorado, was living in Arkansas in 2008 when Pamela, then 18, was diagnosed with mucoepidermoid carcinoma, a malignant tumor of the trachea. The rare condition occurs only 2 or 3 times per 100,000 people per year, most often in the elderly.
James Y. Suen, MD, distinguished professor in the UAMS College of Medicine and a world-renowned head and neck cancer surgeon, operated on Pamela for more than 10 hours and continued her follow-up care.
Today, Pamela is cancer free.
During Pamela's follow-up visits, her father was impressed not only with Suen's skill but with his kind, soft-spoken and compassionate manner.
Rakhshan, who moved to Colorado recently, donated his Arkansas home to UAMS, and UAMS used the proceeds of that sale - nearly $1 million - to establish the Pamela Rakhshan Chair in Otolaryngology, both to celebrate Pamela and honor Suen.
"Sometimes we mistakenly measure our fortunes with what's in our pocket," Rakhshan said. "And at the time, when I was going through this with my daughter, I realized that my true fortunes in life were what was in front of me - my family. And there's no greater gratitude I could have had to Dr. Suen and UAMS for bringing her back to me."
An endowed chair is among the highest academic honors a university can bestow on a faculty member and is established with gifts of $1 million, which are invested and the spendable distributions from the endowment are used to support the educational, research and clinical activities of the chair holder. Those named to a chair are among the most highly regarded scientists, physicians and professors in their fields of expertise. The endowment will provide funding for continued research and advancements to treatments and surgeries for head and neck cancers.
The chair will be at UAMS for as long as UAMS exists, and the interest can be used year after year for research, helping find cures for patients that have vascular anomalies. This gift will make a huge difference and will save many lives in the future says John Dornhoffer, MD, chair of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery in the UAMS College of Medicine.