Only Hearts Can Build a Home.

The Story of the Gabriel House


The story behind the Gabriel House of Care begins long before the idea of the house was conceived. It began in the 1940’s with a young boy who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. That boy was Jorge Bacardi, a member of the well-known Bacardi family that has distributed rum and other fine spirits for 150 years. But contrary to his doctors’ predictions, a determined young Jorge survived his childhood and went on to become a vice president in the family business. Not until he reached his 50’s did doctors determine that he did not have cystic fibrosis. The true diagnosis was a congenital disease called primary ciliary dyskinesia. His only hope for survival was a double lung transplant.

After much soul-searching and the counsel of doctors and family, Jorge, with his wife Leslie by his side, made the difficult decision to pursue a transplant. They committed themselves not only to the rigorous process, but to deeply respect and honor the gift of life if he was approved and fortunate enough to receive an organ.

In March 2008, at age 64, Jorge Bacardi received a double lung transplant at Mayo Clinic Jacksonville. His surgery was complex but the outcome and his recovery were excellent. He left the hospital a few days later, having experienced a full breath of air for the first time in his life. Almost immediately, the Bacardi’s began thinking about how they could give back to honor their organ donor, whom Jorge called Gabriel after the heavenly archangel Gabriel.

Later, in 2009, the Bacardi’s learned the true identity of their donor, Christopher Mark Gregory, a nineteen-year-old student at Loyola University in New Orleans, who suffered a fatal brain aneurysm. They had an emotional meeting with Christopher’s parents, brothers, and other family members at the Gregory’s home in Baltimore. Soon thereafter, Jorge and Leslie Bacardi made the leadership gift to Mayo Clinic for the construction of the new hospitality house being built on campus.

They named the house Gabriel House of Care, in honor of his organ donor.

The Bacardi gift to Mayo Clinic was an expression of their deep gratitude to Christopher, his family, Dr. Cesar Keller, and his Mayo transplant team. The Bacardi’s also made a leadership gift to St. Andrew’s Lighthouse, Inc. to support the opening of Gabriel House of Care.

The story does not end there. With each guest comes another compelling story of courage, determination and human spirit — all of them a tribute to a young man who gave the gift of life to another and a family whose generosity and caring will bring hope and healing to others for generations to come through Gabriel House of Care.

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Location: 4599 Worrall Way, Jacksonville, FL 32224
Main Number: (904) 821-8995

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