For an actor best known for his role in the 1960s classic Spartacus as the leader of a Roman slave revolt, Kirk Douglas’ philanthropy is more out of 2015’s Chappie, about a robot who helps humans. The Douglas Foundation recently donated $2.3 million to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) to buy a da Vinci robot to perform pediatric surgery on male and female urinary tract systems and male reproductive organs.
Robots allow surgeons to perform precision surgery through tiny incisions, important to children because they are so much smaller than adults. In the past two years, CHLA has done surgery on children as young as four months. With the da Vinci system, a surgeon's hand movements are transmitted to the robot's three arms, which are equipped with miniature surgical instruments. Another arm provides a magnified 3-D image through a camera. Robots provide surgeons better accuracy and control of their operations. Minimally invasive surgery promotes faster healing and causes less pain.
“This generous gift from the Douglas Foundation, which also supports the training of physicians in the use of the equipment, comes at a critical time in advancing the hospital’s pediatric surgical program,” says Richard D. Cordova, president and CEO of Children's Hospital Los Angeles. "This single piece of equipment will create more hope and better treatment outcomes for thousands of children suffering from a variety of issues that can be improved surgically."
Recognized as one of the top five pediatric hospitals in the U.S., Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is a nonprofit pediatric institution that treats 107,000 children annually.
Issur Danielovitch Demsky, the son of poor Jewish immigrants from Belarus, was born in Amsterdam, New York. A winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and an honorary Academy Award, Douglas is still active despite coping with the after effects of a helicopter crash, two replaced knees and a stroke.
In 1964 Douglas and his wife Anne established the Douglas Foundation focusing on helping the less fortunate in Southern California. The foundation has tackled many notable causes including rebuilding playgrounds at more than 400 Los Angeles Unified School District schools; establishing the Anne Douglas Center for homeless women at the Los Angeles Mission; rebuilding the Sinai Temple of Los Angeles Preschool / Douglas Family Early Childhood Center; founding Harry’s Haven, the Alzheimer’s unit at the Motion Picture and Television Fund, named in memory of Kirk Douglas' father; and backing two Cedars-Sinai Medical Center COACH mobile medical units, which provide free care to underserved Los Angeles communities.
The Douglas Foundation will accept grant proposals from agencies that serve the disadvantaged in Southern California. Here are the details. Remember that the foundation’s "principal goal is to help those who cannot otherwise help themselves. Its primary focus is improving the education and health, fostering the well-being, and most importantly developing new opportunities for the children who hold our future in their hands.”