Donor Spotlight: Neva and Don Cochran

The Cochrans have inspired, mentored and served others wholeheartedly, and they have always believed in the power of paying it forward.
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Neva and Don Cochran have committed their lives to the healthcare space: Don as an anesthesiologist for many years, and Neva as a registered dietitian nutritionist. They have inspired, mentored and served others wholeheartedly, and they have always believed in the power of paying it forward.

After a successful career in anesthesiology, Don happily retired. But within a few months of his retirement, he read an article about hospice and palliative care that kindled a new flame. With further investigation, he discovered there were three hospice and palliative medicine fellowships in Texas, and one of them was at UT Southwestern Medical Center and Parkland Heath. After Don applied and was accepted into the program, he completed a one-year fellowship and subsequently became the Director of Palliative Care at Children’s Health, where he worked for six years.

“I like to say that anesthesia was his job, but palliative care was his calling,” said Neva.

Don’s parents both passed away from progressive diseases, and Neva believes this informed his compassion for end-of-life care. He made many deep connections with his colleagues and mentors during his fellowship at Parkland Health, including Dr. Elizabeth Paulk, who founded the palliative care program and Parkland and UTSW.

In describing her initial interview with Don for the fellowship, Dr. Paulk shared that “Rather than assume he would be an outstanding candidate because of his years of practice, he said he knew he was a less conventional candidate, that he would have a lot to learn, but that he was not afraid of hard work, was ready to be taught by younger physicians, and more than anything was eager to engage in work that generated truly meaningful emotional work and brought relief and benefit to the lives of his patients.”

As Neva and Don learned more about Parkland, they were inspired by the hospital’s commitment to helping people live better lives through accessible healthcare. They began donating to Parkland Health Foundation in 2007. In early 2022, they created an endowment to support clinician and care team members’ continuing education and training in communication skills to enhance patient care services at Parkland.

“Through the endowment, I hope healthcare team members, especially those in palliative medicine, will have improved knowledge and skills to provide compassionate care for patients and families so they better understand their medical conditions and treatment options and make the best decisions for their care,” shared Neva.

In 2017, the year before his second retirement from the medical field, Don was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. His condition required a lung transplant. In May of 2022, Don passed away from complications following the transplant surgery. In November of 2023, Parkland unveiled a plaque honoring Don’s work in palliative care among family, friends and former colleagues.

Don’s legacy will be long remembered and honored through Parkland Health. He touched thousands of lives through his medical career, and his legacy in palliative care continues to live on through the endowment.

Parkland Health Foundation is incredibly grateful for the Cochran Family and their generosity. Neva hopes that others will consider supporting the work Parkland is doing in Dallas County.

“Parkland is the premier hospital in Dallas delivering state-of-the-art healthcare services from outstanding healthcare providers for people with limited resources,” she said. “For many, it is the only hospital that will take care of them, yet they receive the benefit of some of the best physicians in the country, either trained or teaching at UTSW. Supporting all the people in Dallas, especially those in underserved areas, makes our entire city and county a stronger and better place to live and work.”

Interested in giving to Parkland? We would love to meet you.

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