The philanthropy field is buzzing with stories about the Giving Pledge. Forty billionaires have pledged to give away a majority of their wealth to philanthropy. Michele Chan and Patrick Soon-Shiong are the only Asian Americans on the list. Patrick Soon-Shiong was born in apartheid-era South Africa. He was a son of Chinese immigrants and his father practiced Chinese herbal medicine. Patrick married actress Michele Chan and worked at UCLA School of Medicine. He was involved in developing groundbreaking transplantation techniques to treat diabetes. The technology was used to develop Abraxane, a breast cancer drug made by Abraxis. As Abraxix BioScience Chief Executive, Patrick became a multibillionaire, with the sale of APP Pharmaceuticals.
The couples pledge follows.
Our passion, our mission is to transform health and health care, in America and beyond. Our family foundation was established for that purpose.
Growing up in South Africa during the time of apartheid, we had direct experience of inequality, including great disparities in health and access to good care. After thirty years living in the United States, we see similar disparities in health care on our doorstep in Los Angeles, and across the nation. What was unconscionable to us in South Africa in the twentieth century is just as unconscionable in the United States in the twenty-first.
America has been a land of opportunity for us, as it has for so many immigrants. We are proud to be Americans and we want to see our country strong and healthy. We are blessed to have resources and expertise to contribute.
Our pledge is that, through our family foundation, we will work to erode and eliminate disparities in health care, and to help bring about a system of health care which aims first to keep people healthy, and secondly to ensure that everyone has access to the best quality health care when they need it. We and our children are dedicating our time and our resources to that end.