As a child, Kayla Lau had an erratic, rapid heartbeat. Her heart would race for a short period of time and then correct itself. Doctors were challenged to pinpoint the cause because her episodes were so brief and unpredictable. When she was in sixth grade, she had an extended episode that landed her in the St. Joseph’s emergency room, and the cause was diagnosed. Kayla had been born with an extra electrode in her heart. Within a few weeks, she underwent surgery at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital.
As her parents, Philip and JoAnn, left the hospital after her surgery, reassured by her physician that Kayla’s problems had been eliminated, they saw a giving thermometer in the lobby marking the fundraising goal for the new Children’s Heart Center. The next day the couple gave a gift to name an examination room in the new center for their daughter. The Laus already had a soft spot for St. Joseph’s. Their second son, Andrew, was born two months premature, and during his first two years of life, they became intimately familiar with neonatal and pediatric care at St. Joseph’s. Philip Lau spends much of his time thinking about hospitals and hospital technology. His company, International Specialists, manufactures circuit boards and components for the medical industry as well as other industries. Philip’s two sons, Christopher and Andrew, have now joined him in the family business, which was founded by his father in 1971.
To relax, Philip plays golf or joins JoAnn at their beachfront condo in Pinellas County. The couple spends a few weeks in Hawaii each summer and takes periodic shorter trips to Chicago to get away. “We’re fortunate,” says JoAnn, who met Philip when she worked for his accountant nearly 30 years ago. “We have everything we want, and we want to share with others.”
A mother/baby room at St. Joseph’s Hospital-North is named for Philip and JoAnn Lau.