CHICAGO (CBS) — The gender and sex development program at Lurie Children’s Hospital has just received a $500,000 grant from Jennifer Pritzker, a Chicago philanthropist who is a transgender woman.
It was Jennifer Pritzker who provided the initial grant money for the gender identity clinic at Lurie Children’s Hospital when it opened three years ago.
The program director, Dr. Robert Garofalo said what’s happened in the past three years is remarkable.
“I think what we didn’t know back then and certainly do now is what a demand there would be for these type of services. Back when we started it, I think we were caring for about a dozen families. A few weeks ago I think we cared for our 400th family,” he said. “We’re seeing on average about 15 new patients per month. We have a 4- to 5-month waiting list for our services, and we really – I don’t want to say struggled, because it’s been a good struggle – but struggled to keep up with demand.”
Garofalo said his patients range in age from 4 to 22.
Marie Newman’s 15-year-old daughter is one of the patients in the program.
“My daughter transitioned over the last year. She transitioned from male, so she was born as a male,” she said.
Newman said her daughter has worked hard – with the help of therapists – to fight depression.
“She manages it very well now, and that’s in no small part to all of the great health care providers on her team,” she said.
Besides Pritzker’s grant, she’s pledged to match up to $500,000 in donations from the public; meaning Lurie’s gender and sex development program could get $1.5 million.