William McGowan is again parting with big money to help an institution near and dear to him. The MCI Communications Corp. chairman will give $1 million to Presbyterian-University Hospital, where he underwent a heart transplant in 1987 and exploratory chest surgery earlier this year. The money will support research into artificial hearts.

McGowan says he got the inspiration during his periodic check-ins to the hospital after the transplant. Some patients he met there had been implanted with Novacor devices, which help pump blood pending availability of a donated human heart. "One of the guys had been there 130, 140 days on that device and seemed fine," McGowan recalls. His money will help an effort to develop the device into a permanent one.

Six months ago, McGowan donated $3 million to King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., where he studied before going on to co-found MCI and build it into a $7 billion-a-year operation.

The heart research donation will help the hospital reach a $20 million fund-raising goal. Fund-raisers for good causes periodically seek him out for money, McGowan said. But "this one was certainly close to me and one I could appreciate, having lived through that process."