For immediate release: Nov. 9, 2006

GALVESTON, Texas — A 10-year, $12.5 million contribution will create a permanent endowment to benefit research and patient care conducted in the Truman G. Blocker Burn Unit at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. The contribution is part of the settlement of a lawsuit involving BP PLC. UTMB may also receive up to an additional $2 million to support the adult burn program if commitments for matching funds can be secured within the next six months.

The BP contribution is part of a negotiated settlement with Eva Rowe for the death of her parents, James and Linda Rowe, who both died in the March 2005 BP–Texas City plant explosion. The blast injured more than170 people.

Twenty-three of the most critically injured workers were treated at UTMB. All 23 survived.

“It is remarkable that this young woman, who has suffered such a terrible loss, has turned her personal tragedy into such a great benefit to the community,” said Dr. John D. Stobo, UTMB president. “We extend our deepest gratitude to Ms. Rowe and to BP for this support of our premier burns program. This contribution will enable us to conduct research to improve the standard of care for burn patients throughout the world, and it will benefit this important field of endeavor for generations to come.” 

UTMB’s Truman G. Blocker Burn Unit specializes in the treatment of thermal, chemical and radiation burns, as well as research related to burns, trauma, sepsis and tissue repair. It has one of the highest survival rates for patients with major burn injury of all the hospitals in the United States.

The funds will be used to support scientists and clinicians with particular expertise in adult burns care, to help ensure that patients with severe burns can lead healthy and productive lives.

UTMB’s Truman G. Blocker Burn Unit is named for a pioneer in trauma and burn care. Dr. Blocker, a plastic surgeon and later UTMB’s first president, conceived of a specialized burn unit after his experience in World War II and the immense 1947 explosion of a freighter in Texas City. His vision grew into a multidisciplinary program of education, clinical care and research that has set the standard of care for burn patients worldwide. Blocker was also instrumental in forging UTMB’s long-standing and continuing partnership with the Shriners of North America, which opened the first of its renowned pediatric burn hospitals adjacent to the UTMB campus in 1966. In 1996, UTMB became the first U.S. burn center to be certified by both the American College of Surgeons and the American Burn Association.

The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
Public Affairs Office
301 University Boulevard, Suite 3.102
Galveston, Texas 77555-0144