top of page

A Life Of Significance – It’s About More Than Money

Imagine you’re on the brink of signing the biggest deal of your career. It’s a deal worth tens of millions of dollars and with the stroke of a pen you could have it all; your dream house, dream cars and financial security for the rest of your life and for generations to come. All you have to do is say, “yes,” and it’s yours.

This is the opportunity that was presented to Dr. Michael Brescia, who at the time was just a 20-something year old from the Bronx hoping to make a living. Except, when this opportunity was presented to him, it wasn’t worth millions of dollars – it was worth a BILLION dollars. And despite having everything to gain personally, his decision was to take nothing. He declined it and it was the best decision he ever made.

As a financial services professional, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day activities. Between meeting your sales goals, adapting to new regulations and handling paperwork, you can lose sight of why you’re in the business in the first place. We must constantly remind ourselves of the significant impact our actions can have on others, and at a recent Legatus meeting I received such a reminder from Dr. Brescia, co-founder of Calvary Hospital in the Bronx, NY, the nation’s only hospital dedicated to treating terminally ill patients.

Joe Jordan with Dr. Michael Brescia at a Legatus meeting.

The Story Of Dr. Michael Brescia

The son of an Italian mother and father, Dr. Brescia didn’t know what he wanted to be when he grew up. One day, his friend Johnny became critically ill. A doctor visited Johnny, diagnosed his illness and within four days he was outside playing again. The seed was planted in Dr. Brescia’s head and he knew one day he wanted to become a physician.

Dr. Brescia progressed through high school and college and with hard work he was eventually accepted at Georgetown as a medical student. It was at Georgetown that he participated in a special program on kidney failure.

Before the 1960s, Kidney disease was often fatal. Dialysis could be performed, but there were major limitations and it was only a short-term solution. Patients were only able to survive for a short period of time and if they didn’t receive a kidney transplant in that time they would die. Everyone was racing for a solution. Hundreds of research articles were being published every month searching for a solution.

One day, a moment of inspiration came to Dr. Brescia and he figured out a way to connect an artery to a vein that would allow dialysis to be performed indefinitely. Based on his name and his partner’s, the invention was called the Brescia-Cimino Fistula. 50 years later, it is still the primary treatment method for kidney disease for people who are awaiting a transplant.

When it was first created, drug companies were very excited and Dr. Brescia reports that one company offered him a deal worth $1 billion not to publish his research so they could control the market. He gladly accepted the offer and went to go see his father to tell him the incredible news. When he did, his father looked at him and said “lasciarli.”

In Italian, it means god gave you a gift to help others. In broken English he said, “Michael, if you take this money, when you shave in the morning, you’ll see the faces of the children that should be alive. They’re dead because you needed five houses and five cars. You’ll see the faces of the mothers and fathers who should be alive, but aren’t… all because you needed more. This invention isn’t yours. It was loaned to you by God to take care of the world.”

When he left the apartment, he went straight to the New England Journal of Medicine and published the article, giving up his billion dollar deal. The research brought people all over the world to learn about it. And since then, the Brescia-Camino Fistula has had a life-saving impact on millions people around the world.

Dr. Brescia's story continues when he was asked to volunteer in a small health facility in the Bronx to care for adults and children at the end of their lives. They all suffered from terminal illnesses with dreadful physical and emotional wounds with short periods of survival.

The invention of the fistula allowed Dr. Brescia to successfully obtain the funds from the federal government to begin a singular acute care hospital in the United States. Additionally, many physicians and professionals wished to work with Dr. Brescia due to his invention of the fistula, which has enabled the facility to grow into the world-renowned Calvary Hospital.

You Too Can Have A Life-Changing Impact

Like Dr. Brescia, you too have the potential to have a life-changing impact on others, providing them with dignity, peace of mind and a legacy for their family.

A single conversation with your clients or potential clients can lead to a decision that can have a ripple effect that spans generations. This is an amazing gift for your clients and important responsibility for you.

As you go through your daily life, I challenge you to keep Dr. Brescia at the back of your mind as a reminder of the significance of the work that you do.


Enjoy this story? Book Joe Jordan to speak at your next meeting. Hear personal stories about the impact financial professionals have on their clients. Boost your team's productivity, reinforce a client-focused culture and gain the tools to thrive in a changing world.

bottom of page