About Laura Hart Burdick

Laura Hart Burdick, pictured with her dog.Laura was a typical fun-loving college student at the University of Illinois in 1992 when she was diagnosed with leukemia. She was declared “cured” in 1997, but a year later her breathing became labored. After many tests, she learned that her lungs had been irreversibly damaged, most likely by chemotherapy drugs.

In 2003, Laura underwent successful lung transplant surgery at Stanford University and returned to Arizona to live a full and productive life with her husband, Jon. In September 2005, at the age of 33, Laura succumbed to an intractable lung infection.

When Laura had her transplant in 2003, there was no lung transplant program in the Phoenix area. She had to travel to Stanford for evaluation and surgery, stay there for a minimum of three months, and then return on a regular basis for tests and check-ups. In addition to those visits to the transplant center, she required continuous medical support from doctors and hospitals.

Post-transplant care is highly specialized and extremely time-sensitive. The only frustration Laura ever expressed during her years of illness resulted from the challenge of trying to obtain the timely local support she needed in the absence of a local program.

Laura Hart Burdick Foundation and St. Joseph’s

In 2007, St. Joseph’s Hospital announced that it would meet the needs of patients like Laura with a new facility for heart and lung patients—the Heart & Lung Institute. The institute’s then "Center for Thoracic Transplantation" (now called the John and Doris Norton Cardiothoracic & Transplantation Institute) performed its first lung surgery in 2008.

Today, Norton Thoracic Institute has completed more than 500 successful transplants and has outpaced all programs of its kind in the country. Now designated as the top facility in the country for performing lung transplants (and recogized for its higher than average one-year survival rates), the institute has expanded to offer liver and kidney transplants to patients in need. The center also treats patients whose surgeries were performed elsewhere to provide essential post-operative care needed to survive. The Laura Hart Burdick Foundation supports these programs through its generous donations to St. Joseph’s Foundation.