Moved to Help
While Jorgensen and thousands of other first responders worked the scene in Lower Manhattan, longtime resident of the city of New York, executive vice president of Koch Industries, David H. Koch, also witnessed the horror. Ultimately, the tragic events of that day made such an impact on Mr. Koch, that he and his wife donated $1 million to the 9/11 Memorial Museum. His support helps fund important educational programs for young visitors to the museum.
But Mr. Koch’s generosity extends far beyond the museum. In fact Koch has personally donated more than $1.2 billion to charitable organizations across New York City and beyond, $686 million of which directly benefits cancer research and medical facilities. This includes a $66.7 million donation to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, $20 million to the David H. Koch Cancer Research Center at Johns Hopkins University, $26.5 million to the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, and $195 million to MIT to create the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research.
Mr. Koch’s passion for cancer research came after his own personal diagnosis with prostate cancer in 1992. For the next 10 years, Mr. Koch was treated with radiation, surgery, hormones and most recently, with experimental drug Abiraterone, that he says worked like a miracle drug.
The Thank You Letter
During the summer of 2014, 13 years after 9/11, a letter arrived at Koch Industries’ company headquarters in Wichita, Kansas. It was addressed to David Koch.
“I was employed as a New York City firefighter for 21 years and responded to the attack upon the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001,” the letter began. It further detailed Jorgensen’s service to the city of New York following the 9/11 attacks and thanked Mr. Koch personally for his life-saving financial donations.
Long after the fires of 9/11 ceased to burn, now Lieutenant Niels Jorgensen, fell ill with a severe bronchial and sinus infection. When Jorgensen’s doctor was unable to pinpoint the cause, he was sent to New York Methodist Hospital where he checked in as a critical-care patient. By the summer of 2011, he was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of cancer.
Hairy cell leukemia is so rare that only 500 individuals in the United States are diagnosed with the disease each year. But in less than a year, six 9/11 rescuers had also been diagnosed with hairy cell leukemia.
“The oncologists that treated me had come from the cancer teaching hospitals of New York City, including Sloan-Kettering and New York Presbyterian,” said Jorgensen. Similarly to what Mr. Koch experienced years before, Jorgensen received a revolutionary new cancer treatment that gave him a second chance at life.
“What was conveyed to me by one of my oncologists was that I was very lucky,” he explained. “Recent advances in cancer research and treatments allowed me a very good chance at beating my cancer.”
In a July 2014 interview with The Wichita Eagle, David Koch explained his hope for people to understand that he tries hard to add good to the world and how he wants his children to do the same.
“I hope one of my legacies will be that David Koch made the world a better place,” he said.
Surely, Niels Jorgensen would agree that Mr. Koch has.