Magee-Womens nurse to donate at least $450,000 in retirement savings to hospital for infertility research
The anguished faces of couples desperate to conceive children move Sylvia Bernassoli.
“Your heart goes out to them, because they're just beside themselves because they can't have a baby,” said Bernassoli, 79, of McMurray.
She cares so much that Bernassoli, a certified registered nurse anesthetist with the Center for Fertility and Reproductive Endocrinology at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC, will donate a portion of her retirement savings to infertility research.
Bernassoli arranged a donation plan that eventually will provide at least $450,000 to support research into infertility and other reproductive health conditions at Magee-Womens Research Institute and Foundation and the hospital, said Arthur Scully III, the institute's vice president of development and communications.
“This is the largest planned gift Magee has received in 10 years, and it's very special because it comes from someone who has worked at Magee for a long time and who has seen firsthand what research can do to improve patient care and patient care outcomes,” Scully said on Friday.
Bernassoli said she did so because Magee faces challenges to raise money, and donors often don't consider infertility a serious medical problem. They question why infertile couples don't adopt children, she said.
“These people come in here crying because they can't have their own babies,” she said.
Tax law requires holders of individual retirement accounts, or IRAs, to withdraw a certain amount every year after age 70. Bernassoli will donate $20,000 annually from two IRAs for the rest of her life to pay premiums on a $250,000 life insurance policy. She named Magee as her beneficiary and owner of the policy.
Upon her death, the life insurance policy and the IRAs, which also will be donated, will pay Magee $450,000 to $550,000, Scully said.
The planned gift will protect Bernassoli's savings from significant estate taxes, Magee said.
Surveys show that 6 percent to 8 percent of people make charitable donations for tax benefits, said Lisa M. Dietlin, president of Lisa M. Dietlin and Associates Inc., a philanthropic advisory firm in Chicago.
“Most give because they know someone affiliated, or it's because of the mission of the organization,” she said.
Bernassoli's method of giving is becoming more common, but “it's a pretty sophisticated giving mechanism” more easily handled by hospitals and colleges, Dietlin said.
Bernassoli's nursing career spans nearly 56 years. She graduated from the now-closed South Side Hospital Nursing School in 1955.
She has administered anesthesia to women undergoing egg retrieval for in vitro fertilization for about 22 years, 13 of them through Magee, she said.
“I love everything about it. I like the patient contact,” said Bernassoli, who still works full time.
Money for women's health research historically has been underfunded, and budget cuts tied to federal sequestration will affect Magee's research institute, Scully said.
Eighty-five percent of the institute's $50 million budget for fiscal 2012 was derived from the federal National Institutes of Health. Sequestration will cut NIH grants by 20 percent to 30 percent this year, he said.
To thank Bernassoli, Magee hosted a party for her on Friday at Southpointe Golf Club in Canonsburg. She insisted that Magee not pay for the party, and she split its cost with a family friend. That reflects her character, Magee staffers said.
“If there is a book on ethics and work ethics, she should be written about as an ideal worker. ... We love her,” said Dr. Anthony Wakim, Magee's medical director of assisted reproductive technology.
Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Carnegie Mellon grad’s tweak to tweets turns 7
- Timing of summer’s end a matter of perspective for Western Pennsylvanians
- Outbound 376 reopened after man on exit sign caused closure
- White House threat sparks call for wider immigration debate
- Unidentified body found in Stowe
- Western Pennsylvania colleges cautious about Ebola risk from students
- Newsmaker: Angelo Martini Sr.
- Allegheny County may send Pittsburgh HR complaints
- Limited North Shore tailgating time yields success
- Mother, son displaced by West Mifflin fire
- W.Va. tourism looks ahead after chemical spill