In February of 1987, I had a heart
attack, and subsequently in December of
1987, I needed quintuple bypass surgery.
About a year later when I was
recovering—I stopped smoking and began
to take care of myself when I never had
before—we were sitting around and
someone asked me how much it had cost. I
had no idea because insurance covered it
all. So I investigated and found out it
was about $48 thousand and then someone
said, “What about people who can’t
afford it because they don’t have any
insurance?” So we started an
organization on a small scale called the
Larry King Cardiac Foundation for those
people who have no insurance or have
just fallen through the cracks. The
first year we helped an overweight high
school coach get a new heart. That
started it. Now, we put on two major
events a year—one in Washington, D.C.
and one in Los Angeles. We have major
stars like Celine Dion. Every top star
that you can think of has performed.
It’s been unbelievable. We give the
money, and we’ve helped over 300 people
either get a new heart or heart
procedure. We help children, people from
other countries, and we’ve donated
equipment to hospitals. Our goal is to
save a heart a day. The advantage of it
is that you see the person you help. It
doesn’t go to research. It goes directly
to help the doctors pick out people who
are eligible. We work with various
hospitals, and I am lucky enough to make
the call to tell the people that we’re
going to do the procedure for them or
How can a caregiver reach out to your
They can go to the website at
www.LKCF.org or they can write to us.
The website gives them all the contact
information. They write to us or the
doctor writes for them that they need
this procedure, and that they are not
covered for it or don’t have insurance.
The doctor presents the case. Then a
panel of doctors and cardiologists
reviews the case and makes
recommendations to the Board who makes
the choice. The process works pretty
quickly. We do some of it over the
phone. We pick the party and the
hospital does the surgery. We enlist the
doctors. All of them cut their rates so
we can do as many people as possible.
And you’ve got a very impressive Board.
Yes, we’ve got an impressive Board. A
lot of people work for us. At our dinner
in Washington, D.C., we really pour it
on. We get a lot of help. It’s the most
gratifying thing I’ve ever done—helping
people. There’s no bigger kick than
making that call. Then we visit the
patients. Another thing is that if you
come to the dinner, you get to see the
patients. We fly them in or bring them
to the dinner. It’s very rewarding.
How can people support the mission of
You can come to the dinners. I donate
the royalties from my books and I give a
percentage of the proceeds from the
speeches I give. But people can help by
going directly to the website.
And people can donate there?
Yes, people can donate right there to
the Larry King Cardiac Foundation.
Corporations back us pretty well. FedEx
contributes as does the drug company
Lilly. So we have some corporations
behind us. The Washington Redskins are
very active as well.
Statistics are showing that 36% of
caregivers will die before their loved
ones do, and I was wondering if you had
any advice for caregivers to become