For Sanford it came Oct. 19, just 15 days before he announced he was giving $100 million to UC San Diego for stem cell research.
“I was within minutes or hours of death," he told reporter Jon Walker of the Argus Leader newspaper in South Dakota earlier this week. Sanford, 77, had suffered a near fatal blood clot in his lungs at 2:30 in the morning while on a pheasant hunting trip near Gregory, S.D.
“I couldn’t walk or breathe. It’s pretty scary when you can’t walk eight or 10 feet.”Sanford called his physician at Sanford Health in Sioux Falls, S.D., who launched the facility's emergency plane. The billionaire was treated successfully and now reports he is back in the San Diego and in good condition.
Sanford is famous in both San Diego and South Dakota for giving away more than $1 billion. He still has about $1 billion but says he plans to give it all away and die broke. His largest contribution, $400 million, has gone to Sanford Health.
Sanford has spent years in South Dakota and is often described as a South Dakota resident. However, the Argus Leader says he is a former Sioux Falls businessman who has homes in South Dakota, Arizona and California.
Walker's newspaper is part of the Gannett chain that also operates USA Today, which yesterday picked up the reporter's two stories , one on the California stem cell donation and one on Sanford's lung blockage. The two articles were combined and rewritten by USA Today to focus on the $100 million stem cell donation. Walker's byline was put on the story in keeping with common newspaper practices. It was a score for Walker to have a byline on a national story in a national publication with 2.88 million circulation.
(Samuel Johnson had a number of things to say about close encounters with mortality. Here is a link to one.)