Planned Giving

Care and Compassion at UTCVM Inspire John and Maggie Jana to Make Estate Gift

Photo of John and Maggie Jana's dogs“Sophia was a ‘foodie,’ so when she stopped eating, we knew something was very wrong,” says Maggie Jana. When the tests conducted by Dr. Julie Becker (UTCVM ’98), the Janas’ local veterinarian, were inconclusive, she suggested that they take Sophia, a beautiful black standard poodle, for evaluation at the UT College of Veterinary Medicine.

Tests at UTCVM revealed that Sophia, a lover of children and with springs for legs, had advanced stomach cancer that could not be seen on standard testing. Sophia died following surgery that same day. “It was devastating,” says John. John and Maggie, not wanting others to go through what they were going through, donated Sophia’s body to UTCVM so that students could study her. “We hoped that some good could come of her death,” he relays.

“The doctors knew how devastated we were,” says Maggie. Dr. Nacha Mari Rivera-Rios, affectionately known as “Dr. Nacha,” presented Maggie with a lock of Sophia’s hair, which was tied with a pink bow—Sophia’s signature color. “That small gesture meant so much to us,” she shares.

Photo of a dogA few months later, the Jana family was back at UTCVM with Beasley, their white standard poodle. Handsome and stately, Beasley was being treated by Dr. Marti Drumm for a leg injury, which requires him to wear a special orthotic device. “Dr. Nacha saw us there, hugged me, and said she had something for me,” says Maggie. Dr. Nacha had saved Sophia’s pink collar, which she presented to the Janas. “This simple gesture had a profound impact on our hearts.”

The caring and compassion of the UT staff did not end there, however. At one of Beasley’s follow-up physical therapy appointments, Dr. Drumm noticed a tumor on Beasley’s tail. Instead of physical therapy that day, Beasley was taken to surgery to remove the tumor, which was cancerous. “We were so worried,” says Maggie. “I asked if I could stay with Beasley overnight.” Morgan, the fourth-year student attending him, assured the Janas that Beasley would be getting constant care and sent photos during the night to the worried couple. Thankfully, Beasley required no additional treatment and is doing well.

“We knew at that moment that we wanted to support UTCVM,” says John. “UTCVM develops not only knowledgeable and skillful veterinarians, but caring and compassionate individuals who demonstrate these qualities to their patients but perhaps even more so to their owners—their moms and dads who deeply love their animal children.”

Photo of a dogThrough a bequest in their wills, John and Maggie have created a scholarship endowment to benefit fourth-year veterinary students with an expressed interest in caring for companion animals in an emergency clinic or veterinary practice setting. They have also created an endowed fund that can be used to fund the simulation lab and a mentoring program for veterinary students and young veterinarians with an emphasis on mental health and well-being and for alternative strategies to traditional veterinary care such as physical therapy, orthotics, and holistic care.

“We have seen firsthand the quality of the teaching faculty and students at UTCVM. We want to see this tradition of educating top-quality veterinarians who are also caring and compassionate individuals continue,” says Maggie. “We are excited to be able to continue this legacy through an estate gift.”

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