When the need for an organ transplant is the medical diagnosis, it is understandable the patient and their caregiver are facing a very stressful situation.
Birmingham, Mich. resident Edward Pompeian was having serious health issues and it was suggested to his mother Helen (Nazarian) Pompeian to take her son to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minn. and her mother’s love guided her to do just that.
Helen Pompeian was an active member of the Pontiac, Mich. “Ani” chapter of the Armenian Relief Society (ARS). She was an attractive, vivacious blonde, dedicated to her family and Armenian heritage. Along with her son Edward, her daughter, and his nephew, in 1972 Helen decided the move Rochester should be permanent.
It was in 1973 that Ed received his first kidney transplant with his mother Helen being the donor and a second kidney transplant in 2004 from his son.
Ed founded Gift of Life Transplant House in 1984. His vision and mission was to provide Mayo Clinic transplant patients with high quality affordable accommodations in a supportive homelike environment providing room and board for $30. A day to the transplant patient and one caregiver for as long as needed whether or not they could pay anything.
My good friend Helen passed away five years ago, but her kindness and love of mankind was inherited by her son Edward and his son Nick who now is President of the executive Committee of Gift of Life Transplant House Board of Directors serving one and a half years of a two year term.
Nick Pompeian, 30, in addition to owning a successful commercial real estate company works with the Gifts of Life Staff. “I love any occurring disputes on a management level as well as doing public relations. I talk to groups about our association with the Mayo Clinic and the importance of donations to enhance The Gifts of Life assistance to patient’s well being,” said Nick. “It doesn’t matter if they can or cannot pay. Patients stay and care is guaranteed. We want to do everything possible to alleviate as much stress on them as we can.”
His father Edward started with an eight-bedroom facility for transplant patients and now it has grown to two locations across from each other with 84 rooms. Both facilities are located on Second Street SW.
The home located at 705 Second Street has been named to Gift of Life Transplant House: Edward and Jayne Pompeian Home. The couple have continued to be involved with the houseguests in many ways, saying “It is a special gift to leave a legacy to our children, grandchildren, and future transplant recipients.”
What a magnanimous accomplishment this young man Edward Pompeian of Armenian American heritage has done for his fellow man.
A major gift was given to Gift of Life Transplant House by the Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation, the 724 house well be named in their honor.
Nick Pompeian proudly explains, “Dad founded the Gift of Life Transplant House, the first of its kind in the country and the largest hospitality house in the nation. Two others have come to existence, one in Scottsdale, Az., and the other in Jacksonville, Fla. Our board was instrumental to share information with them.” He stressed the importance of donations.
Nick Pompeian added, “The success rate for the transplants is increasingly higher than previously. New improved technology has made transplants very successful. Helen Pompeian’s friendly personality made her an important asset to Transplant House. She visited patients, listened to their stories, and she offered them solace, understanding and encouragement, a friendly ear. She was a comfort to the patients.
I told Nick I believe your grandmother must be above observing our conversation and laughing in approval. She always spoke of her grandchildren and how attentive they were to her.
Nick is a lot like his grandmother—confident and out going but then I got a real surprise from him. He told me, “I went to Armenia this past October with my parents, sister Adrienna, my Aunt and Uncle, the Mardigian.” The Mardigians are a prominent metro Detroit family who had made a substantial donation to FAR (Fund for Armenian Relief) to build schools in Armenia. He said, “they have donated generously to Armenian’s needs and on this trip they received the Medial of Honor from His Holiness Karekin II Catholicos of All Armenians for all they have done. I got to shake the Catholicos’s hand and I had my picture taken with him. I absolutely loved my visit to Armenia. It was a life changing experience. It was an honor to have that connection. It was very emotional and put things in perspective. How lucky we are to live here in America. Sometimes we get caught up in material wants, but it’s faith, family, and friends that are the most important. I plan on returning every other year. I want to visit Karabagh next. We visited the Tavush District, Berd, Holy Etchmiadzin, and Yerevan. We traveled with the FAR board members and then we traveled on our won with a FAR representative. We were there ten days. We also visited Lake Sevan and Garni.”
I asked Nick what his emotional reaction was when he landed in Yerevan and he replied: “I imagined it but it was like a dream. It was so beautiful. My family—we are all proud Armenians. I hope every Armenian wants to visit Armenia. The experience makes you proud to be Armenian.”
Edward and Jayne Pompeian are to be congratulated for the Gift of Life Transplant House and for blank Nick, seemingly a perfect fir for his position on its Board of Directors.
Fundraising events are held throughout the year to benefit Transplant House.
Transplants have been instrumental in saving lives and it could be your life that is saved.
To donate the address is:
Gift of Life Transplant House
705 Second St., Southwest,
Rochester, Minn. 55902
They also could be found on Facebook.