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David and Kate Thorburn: Giving from the Heart

Photo of David and Kate Thorburn and family.David Thorburn, MD ’77, and Kate McKee Thorburn, BS ’75, drove the 100-plus miles from their Turlock, California, home to bring four of their six children into the world at UCSF. And they’ve spent some 30 years giving back to the place that provided them their education, their livelihoods, and their family.

Every year since 1984, the Thorburns have donated to UCSF, first in small gifts and later through deferred charitable gift annuities. Then in 2010 they established the David E. Thorburn, MD, and Kate McKee Thorburn Endowed Chair in Perinatal Medicine and Genetics at the School of Medicine.

“UCSF is an outstanding institution,” David says. “They did a really good job of preparing me for my medical career.” Kate, who worked in the trauma unit at San Francisco General Hospital and at hospitals in Los Angeles, found that UCSF’s reputation as a top-notch nursing school preceded her everywhere she went. But it was her experience as a patient that made the deepest impression.

Her pregnancies, including one set of twins, were complicated by Rh disease—an incompatibility between a mother and her baby’s blood that can cause serious birth defects and even death.

But, with the expertise of UCSF’s ob-gyn team, the couple was able to have the large family they wanted—which now includes six children and their spouses as well as eight grandchildren.

With so many young people running around and an almond farm to tend in addition to David’s ophthalmology practice (where Kate also works), the Thorburns stay busy. They also keep on giving to UCSF, largely through unrestricted gifts.

“When I started in practice nearly 40 years ago, I didn’t have a lot of money,” David says. “But even then, we knew we wanted to get into the habit of giving consistently to UCSF and planning on that every year.”

“Our desire to give stems from our education,” Kate adds, “but also from my having been taken care of by UCSF doctors and nurses.”


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