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This story first appeared in the Sept. 19 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.“>
Dr. Robert Kay initially didn’t recognize his former patient Tess, now 24, when she introduced herself at a recent shoot. It had been 16 years since the two met in an operating room at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, where she had been transferred after being struck by a car outside her home. “She had a fractured pelvis, a broken leg and her kneecap was almost completely torn off,” recounts her father, Starz’s Chris Albrecht.
As the orthopedic surgeon on call that day, Kay performed the initial two surgeries — repairing the fractured bones and soft tissue damage — and the distressed family leaned on him as a source of support throughout the recovery process, which involved months of physical therapy and years of reconstructive cosmetic surgery.
“When you go through something like this, and someone comes in to help you, you latch on to this person for reassurance and guidance,” says Chris Albrecht. “Dr. Kay became that figure for us.”
The hospital made such a deep impression on the cable head that, six years after his daughter’s accident, he pledged $1 million and agreed to serve as co-chair of Children’s Hospital L.A.’s New Hospital Building Campaign Committee, alongside Entertainment Tonight‘s Mary Hart. The campaign raised $250 million for the hospital’s $636 million inpatient facility, which was dedicated in 2011.
“It’s not always the easiest thing to raise money for sick children, especially east of Highland,” says Albrecht. “But you can’t have a world-class city without a world-class pediatric facility.”
For his part, Kay derives satisfaction from seeing the impact he has had on his young patients — including Tess, who recently returned to Los Angeles after graduating from NYU: “It’s fantastic to see someone who is able to lead a full and fulfilling life because we were able to do something years ago.”
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