St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

  • Medicine & Health
  • 1962

Located in Memphis, Tennessee, St. Jude Children’s Hospital is internationally famous for its tight focus on treating and finding cures for catastrophic diseases of childhood—cancer especially. Nearly 8,000 young patients from all around the world are treated at the facility every year and no family ever pays St. Jude for anything.

From its beginning, St. Jude has conducted important research on childhood cancers that it shares with the profession. In a typical year, its staff will publish up to 800 articles in academic journals. Nobel Prize winner Peter Doherty conducts research on immunology at the hospital. It was the first institution to develop a cure for sickle-cell disease, via bone-marrow transplant. Protocols developed at St. Jude have helped push national survival rates for childhood cancers from less than 20 percent when the facility opened to 80 percent today.

The hospital is now America’s second-largest health-care charity and fifteenth largest charity overall. Fully 75 percent of the $1.8 million per day that it costs to run the hospital comes from donations (typical hospitals derive 8-10 percent of their revenues from charitable giving); the rest comes from health-insurance reimbursements and research grants.

St. Jude was conceived by actor Danny Thomas as he prayed at a Catholic Church in Detroit while struggling in his young career. When he became a popular star he followed through, forming the fundraising arm that now raises more than $800 million every year for the hospital. The average gift is about $30.