New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has donated $50 million to Massachusetts General Hospital.
The purpose of the donation was to fund research into sickle cell disease and to try to promote health justice, as he claimed a cure would have been found if it had affected “white people”.
Sickle cell anemia is a blood disorder that primarily affects the black community.
“If this was a white disease, I think the cure would have been found by now,” Kraft said in an interview with Front Office Sports.
“I think it’s up to people like me to try and do what we can to help.”
The donation will fund a permanent diversity, equity and inclusion officer at the hospital, something Kraft hopes to roll out nationwide.
It is the largest contribution ever made to Massachusetts General to specifically target health equity.
The pledge is also the most generous by any owner in any sport to try to address racial disparities in medical care.
In total, Kraft has donated more than $75 million since 2010, a year before his late wife, Myra, died of ovarian cancer.
His donations established the Kraft Center for Community Health, which includes a mobile care program that includes health and addiction services.
“I knew how fortunate we were to have access to care, and then I became aware of the inequalities in the system,” added Kraft, whose Patriots have won six Super Bowls under his ownership.
“This is the greatest country in the world. We have to do a better job.
“I thought about the stories I heard in the dressing room and then we started the center.”
Sickle cell anemia is the umbrella term for a group of inherited disorders that severely affect red blood cells.
Sufferers are not expected to live past the age of 60, and treatment focuses primarily on relieving symptoms such as pain and infection with blood transfusions and painkillers.
“Robert Kraft and the Kraft family are creating important pathways for sickle cell disease patients to receive comprehensive medical care that has traditionally not been available to them,” said Dr. Joseph Betancourt, senior VP of equity and community health at Massachusetts General in a statement.
‘I am grateful to the Kraft family for their longstanding commitment to improving healthcare access and outcomes for patients and residents in our community.’