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Rustom, Mary and Milind

Mary and Rustom Khouri, DPM, MD, have been married 42 years and raised four children. The couple runs a real estate development company. Rustom, a former physician, and Mary made a generous gift to Cleveland Clinic to support the work of the following gentleman, who happens to be Rustom’s doctor. 

Milind Desai, MD, is a Cleveland Clinic cardiologist who holds the Haslam Family Endowed Chair in Cardiovascular Medicine. His research interests include computed tomography (CT) angiography for cardiovascular risk prediction, made possible with funding from the Khouris.

Our guests knew each other before this filming. What Rustom and Mary didn’t know was that Milind would be joining them.  

MILIND: Surprise! 

MARY: It’s so good to see you! 

RUSTOM: This is wonderful! (to Milind) I love your socks. 

MILIND: (to Rustom) I love your socks, too. I was just reminiscing about when we met. Remember? 

MARY: You said something about a calcium score that was very high. I remember thinking, “Oh my God, I’m not sure about the significance of calcium scoring, but it didn’t sound good.” 

MILIND: Exactly. Rustom’s images did not make me happy. He told me, “But I had a stress test that was normal a few months ago.” My reply was, “Stress tests can be wrong in about 10 out of 100 patients — and I strongly suspect you are one of those.” 

RUSTOM: To me, that is the most telling part of why your research is so important. I could’ve had a massive heart attack that would’ve killed me.

MILIND: You had plaque in multiple coronary arteries. So you had the bypass operation that was developed at Cleveland Clinic. And, thankfully, you’ve done well. 

MILIND: With your philanthropic support, we expanded our collaboration with the University of Oxford in the U.K. to develop a technique using CT scans to help detect people who are at risk for future heart attacks.   We’re about to publish a paper showing that this technology has adjusted risk of a future heart attack in about 40% of patients. It’s a huge number.  With folks like you, it’s beyond generosity. It’s the ability to say, “Hey, I’m going to earmark these funds to help the future.” You could think, “What’s in it for me?” What’s in it for you is making a difference downstream.   Thank you on behalf of not just me and my research team, but all the patients. 

RUSTOM AND MARY: You’re welcome.  

RUSTOM: We think your work is going to have a significant global impact. 

MILIND: That’s the hope. It’s incredibly humbling, and Cleveland Clinic fosters an environment that allows us to do this. 

MARY: People would tell us, “Oh, my calcium score was X and my cardiologist recommended that I do this and thank God that I’m OK.” And I was proud to say that Cleveland Clinic started that research. 

RUSTOM: We really hope that it saves thousands of lives. 

MILIND: As a health system, we’re part of the global fraternity of cardiovascular research. This is pushing the envelope forward. Look, too many people have risk factors that result in heart disease. And heart disease, despite all the advances, still is the No. 1 killer in the world today. Consistent investment in research, often through the generosity of folks like you, is absolutely crucial. Thank you again. 

RUSTOM: It is truly our pleasure, and we are thankful that our gift can make a difference. 

MARY: You’re so welcome.