Although Meredith Miller's natural heart expired at age 11, her heart's desire to give to others lives on through the Meredith Erin Miller Endowed Fund in Cardiology at Texas Children's Hospital. With a commitment of $25,000, Mr. Meredith Miller and Ms. Julie Miller established the fund in memory of their daughter to provide financial assistance to cardiology patients and their families.
Meredith wanted to help others, because so many had helped her. A pediatric cardiologist at Texas Children's treated Meredith in the womb after an ultrasound showed that her heart was not beating properly. Meredith was born four weeks early on December 4, 1996, and was immediately transferred to Texas Children's, where doctors diagnosed and treated her for a rare heart condition. To steady her speeding, spongy heart, Meredith received medication early on, a pacemaker at age 1 and a defibrillator just before her 4th birthday.
Those who knew Meredith did not see her as a sick child even though she underwent more than seven surgeries, had several stents and suffered a stroke at age 9. Pictures stir up memories of the beautiful, vibrant girl who enjoyed acting and dancing and progressed each year with her class. Family and friends recall a young activist who put other people ahead of herself so they could succeed.
In spite of her own health challenges, Meredith viewed every day as a gift from God and determined to make a difference in the lives of other patients like her. She dreamed of becoming a cardiologist and opening a hospital that would provide adequate health care for every child, regardless of his or her family's ability to pay.
Meredith's altruistic heart inspired her parents to give in new ways. "If an ad came on television requesting money to help starving children, Meredith wanted to give," said Mr. Miller. "If I said, ‘Okay, we'll give $20,' she'd respond, ‘Can we send more?'" In addition to encouraging people, Meredith donated her books, teddy bear collection, other belongings and new toys to children in the hospital.
The Millers established an endowed fund at Texas Children's for several reasons. They had a special connection with the hospital where Meredith was first treated and wanted to honor the physicians whose knowledge and care enhanced their daughter's quality of life. Moreover, they wanted a managed gift vehicle that would carry on Meredith's memory and mission long after they were gone.
"Before we witnessed Meredith's unique drive to give, we donated a percentage each year to a charity of our choice, because it was the right thing to do," said Ms. Miller. "We decided to continue our daughter's heartfelt legacy of giving when we saw the impact her generosity had on children and families in need."