Best Philanthropist: Kind-hearted generosity from a donor who makes a difference
Dr. Olajire Idowu
When Dr. Olajire Idowu, a pediatric surgeon at Children's Hospital Oakland, offered his services to an established overseas medical mission, they suggested he pony up ten large for the privilege of joining their precious ranks. That's when he knew it was time to straighten up and fly solo. Thus Medical Care for Children of All Races Everywhere was born. Twice a year, the elegant and peaceful Dr. Idowu and a group of colleagues travel to Belize and his native Nigeria. They bring ventilators, meds, plastic supplies, and even sterile scissors -- because no one should be cutting an umbilical cord with a rusty pair. Dr. Idowu, Jire (Jerry) to his friends, has seen healthy newborns die from exactly that, as well as defects that are commonly cured in the Western world. He teaches surgery in his native Yoruban and even negotiates with crooked customs officials who think it's cute to confiscate much-needed equipment (how much can a respirator go for on the black market?). Stateside, Jire and his small team struggle with legal filings and tax papers alongside their seventy-hour-per-week jobs. And the man does it all on a shoestring. Brother, can you spare a dime?