OHSU

Bill and Beverly White

Giving others a fresh start

Bill WhiteWhen Bill White was growing up in Baker, Ore., in the 1940s, not much could be done for kids with heart murmurs. They were advised to “take it easy” and avoid sports.

“The doctors told my parents I would experience complications – my heart would have to work harder, and would probably get enlarged,” said Bill. “They predicted I probably wouldn’t live past 40.”

That all changed in the late 1950s, when Bill went to his family physician for his college physical. That doctor told Bill and his parents there was new hope at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.

Doernbecher experts concluded that Bill was a great candidate for a then-experimental surgery to repair his heart. The young surgeon Albert Starr, M.D., who would go on to revolutionize surgical practice with the Starr- Edwards heart valve, was his physician. Bill underwent the surgery in the summer 1959. He was 19.

Afterward, Dr. Starr told Bill he had a good probability of living to be a grandfather, and the prediction has come true!

Bill has led an incredibly active life. As a college student he worked summers for the forest service clearing and building back country trails, and then went on to work for Boise Cascade’s timber division. Finishing college at Portland State University, he met Beverly, now his sweetheart of 47 years. They raised a son and daughter on their small cattle ranch in Oregon’s Grande Ronde Valley.

Bill continues to enjoy farming and cattle. He also still likes to get out in Oregon wilderness areas. Now 71, he allows himself the luxury of using his favorite mules to haul him and his supplies.

The Whites believe the care Bill received at Doernbecher gave him the chance for a longer and better quality life. They began sending generous annual gifts to Doernbecher more than a decade ago. “I look at my own circumstances and think, if I can help give some other kid a fresh start, it’s a wonderful thing,” said Bill.

“Doernbecher is able to give kids a fresh start every day thanks to loyal donors like the Whites,” said Ellie Dir, development officer for Doernbecher Children’s Hospital Foundation. “Annual gifts give the hospital the steady resources they need to make that happen.”