Mary Kay Deen, whose grandsons
call her Booma, is a long way
from home. She’s traveled more
than 1,000 miles from Bay St.
Louis, Miss., to receive a stem cell
transplant at the Mayo Clinic in
Rochester, Minn., to treat a form of
blood cancer. Chemotherapy has
taken her hair and left her tired. But
the fight isn’t gone from this petite
woman with a slight southern drawl,
and this is due, in large measure, to
the encouragement she receives
from her fellow patients at Gift of
Life Transplant House.
Founded by Edward P. Pompeian, CCIM, GRI, Gift of Life provides organ and tissue transplant patients and their
caregivers with high-quality, a;ordable housing in a
home-like environment before and after their treatment at the Mayo Clinic.
Recognizing the miraculous role of the human
spirit in aiding recovery from serious health conditions, Pompeian sought to create an environment of
camaraderie and community for his guests when he
purchased an old eight-bedroom Craftsman house
blocks from the Mayo Clinic in 1984.
Gift of Life has grown over the past 30 years and
now occupies two buildings with 87 rooms. Each
room has two beds—one for the transplant recipient and another for a family member or caregiver.
There are communal kitchens and social spaces for
residents to get know each other. Guests sit at large
wooden tables in the dining hall or watch television
together on cozy sofas.
Deen says she doesn’t know if she’d be recover-
ing as well if she’d stayed in the apartment she first
moved to in Rochester. Gift of Life changed her out-
look. “If you don’t feel good—for instance, I was on ox-
ygen for two weeks—people here cheer you on.” Deen
says of the other patients.
According to Executive Director Ginger Holmes,
bone marrow and stem cell transplant recipients
make up 60 percent of their guests, typically staying
between 100 and 120 days. Heart and lung transplant
patients average three to four months, while kidney transplant stays are the shortest at about three
weeks. Gift of Life asks for $35 per day if patients can
a;ord it, but no one is turned away.
Pompeian long dreamed of opening a transplant
recovery house, where patients could stay for little or
no cost. “Hotels are not the place to be when you’re
going through something serious.”
He understands the di;culties personally. He re-
ceived his first of two kidney transplants in 1973 when
he was 21, following a series of misdiagnoses in his
native Michigan. Pompeian and his mother, Helen,
found hope at the Mayo Clinic and moved to Roches-
ter. His mother was his donor.
After his recovery, Pompeian chose to stay in
Rochester. He joined a real estate company in 1975.
He also began visiting other transplant patients regularly and met his wife Jayne, a nurse at the Mayo
Clinic, during one of those meetings. He learned there
was a need for nearby extended-stay patient housing, which grew rapidly as transplant technology improved.
Today, Mayo handles more than a thousand transplants per year, and Gift of Life has expanded to meet
the demand. In 2013 alone, some 4,100 people stayed
at the residences. “The path that God has outlined for
me and Gift of Life has surely made a di;erence in
thousands of peoples’ lives,” says Pompeian.
BY ERICA CHRISTOFFER
A Home for Healing
Edward P. Pompeian,
a two-time kidney
transplant recipient, has
created a home away
from home for Mayo Clinic
EDWARD P. POMPEIAN REALT Y GROWTH INC. | ROCHESTER, MINNESOTA
Contact Edward P. Pompeian at email@example.com. Learn more at gift-of-life.org.