Editor's note: The death Wednesday of Sheik Khalifa, prime minister of Bahrain, reminded some of us of another head of state who spent some of his final days at Mayo Clinic. King Hussein of Jordan died in 1999 after receiving treatment at Mayo for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Hussein and his family were in Rochester for months and became somewhat widely known in the community. Here is a story from our archive, first published on May 10, 2014.
Maj. Gen. Her Royal Highness Princess Aisha bint Al Hussein of Jordan appeared at Mayo Civic Center in Rochester on Friday night to thank Mayo Clinic staff for the care they provided her father, King Hussein, before his death.
She said he loved to go to Mayo Eugenio Litta Children's Hospital and read to pediatric patients from their storybooks.
The princess said she herself is a Mayo patient, and at her appointments in Rochester this week was continually impressed with the efficiency and personal touch of Mayo health providers.
"It's so easy to see why my father loved this place," she said.
Her father is remembered for his generosity in Rochester, even though he died at 63 of non-Hodgkin lymphoma 15 years ago.
His acts included paying Mayo medical bills for some Jordanians treated there. He also donated $5,000 to the Abdel Qader, a place of worship for Rochester Muslims. And, he gave an unsolicited$10,000 to the Gift of Life Transplant House in 1995 after advocates trying to raise money asked if he would donate an autographed photo.
He gave an ornately crafted Bible given to Rochester Methodist Hospital in 1994, according to an article in Mayo Clinic Proceedings. The Bible, with a box lined in ornate mother-of-pearl flowers and feathers, remains on display in the Mayo Charlton Building at Rochester Methodist.
Princess Aisha bint Al Hussein's presence in Rochester for the Mayo Clinic 150th anniversary "Signature Event" celebration underscored Mayo's continuing connections to Jordan.
A telemedicine link was made between Mayo and both King Hussein Medical Center and Amman Surgical Hospital in Jordan so King Hussein's Jordanian doctors could consult with Mayo specialists while he was in Jordan.
Her father's visits to Rochester also had an economic impact in the city. Within a single eight-month period, Clements Chevrolet, for example, provided limousines and other vehicles for the King's entourage more than 2,000 times.
Hussein and his wife, Queen Noor, shook hands with all the Chevrolet employees whenever they were picked up at the airport, and their friendliness endeared them to Rochester residents they met.
"He was just as common and down-to-earth and friendly as anyone else you'd meet," Clements' Denny Broughton said after the king died'
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Hussein came to Rochester multiple times for medical checkups and surgeries after his first visit in 1992. At that time, his kidney was surgically removed, along with a duct leading from the kidney, after cancerous cells were found.
He also made news when he paid a visit to the ailing president of the United Arab Emirates in 1996 — the first time two leaders from the Middle East had met in Rochester.
Hussein spent six months in Rochester for chemotherapy, starting in summer of 1998. He went home to Jordan briefly and then returned for a bone-marrow transplant.
In 1997 King Hussein, who was at Mayo Clinic in Rochester for prostate treatment, also met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when Netanyahu was in the United States for talks with President Bill Clinton.