Rochelle family funds gifts for Texas A&M’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences in memory of their beloved boxer.
He lay lifeless on the wet grass—not moving, not breathing. Sarge, a 20-month-old boxer, had collapsed while playing his favorite game with his owner, Alex Rochelle. “One minute Sarge was jumping up at the water hose biting at the stream,” Alex said, “and the next he was lying on the ground motionless. I thought he was dead.”
After a visit to Texas A&M University’s Small Animal Hospital in the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Sarge was diagnosed with two forms of cancer and two heart conditions. In the months following, he received exceptional care from staff at the veterinary hospital as he underwent treatments and pacemaker tune-ups to keep him on his feet.
Ultimately, however, Sarge’s heart disease took his life on Feb. 2, 2015 at age seven and a half.
Six months after losing him, the Rochelles honored Sarge by purchasing a much-needed piece of equipment for the veterinary college: the GE 9900 C-arm Digital Mobile Imaging System. The new equipment, which replaces a 2005 version, is used in cardiovascular diagnoses by cardiology, internal medicine, radiology, oncology, neurology and critical care teams.
Because their gift also covers a seven-year maintenance contract for the equipment, 80 percent of client fees associated with the use of the machine are now deposited into a newly-formed SARGE (Support of Advances in CaRdiovascular ImaGing and DEvices) fund to assist clients who can’t afford the cost of minimally invasive cardiology procedures for their pets.
Uniquely, the fund will also support the cost of rare and expensive surgeries that can help advance canine cardiology medicine and research. In this way, their gift will provide countless teaching opportunities for Texas A&M veterinarians and students.
“Everyone wants the best care for their pets,” Martha said, “but that doesn’t come without a price. Instead of having to take a lesser avenue of treatment, we know the SARGE fund will help families and veterinarians provide exceptional care to pets so they can live longer, fuller lives.”
Bitsy, a 1-year-old rescue dog from Austin with a congenital heart defect, was the first patient to benefit from the SARGE fund.
“During Bitsy’s surgery, we decreased the size of an abnormal blood vessel in her heart and saved her life,” said Dr. Ashley Saunders ’98 ’01. “The SARGE fund will provide the opportunity to save countless other animals without placing a financial burden on their owners.”
In addition to their creation of the SARGE fund, the Rochelles gave $1 million to establish a faculty chair in the veterinary oncology department in 2013. That gift was inspired by their late boxer Bugsy, who spent many months battling a fatal tumor.
The college seeks an endowment to support innovative advancements in veterinary education through a fund to support and spark development of new inventive teaching methods and healthcare delivery systems, capitalizing on student and faculty exploration (giving opportunities begin at $100,000).