Spirit of Giving


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Leaving a Gift for Tomorrow

Mary Theresa Ross is the Manager of  Personal & Planned Gifts with the IWK Health Centre Foundation. If you have any questions, or would like further information on how to make a planned gift to the IWK Foundation, please call Mary Theresa at 902-470-8240.

Mary Theresa Ross, Manager of Personal & Planned Gifts

Mary Theresa Ross, Manager of Personal & Planned Gifts

Each of us possesses the power to provide a lasting legacy to charitable causes we feel are important. A gift in your will not only provides tremendous personal satisfaction , but allows the IWK to plan for future projects with greater certainty and use donations to greater effect.

For me, working at the IWK Foundation is so much more than a career, it is my absolute passion. I believe in the need because I’ve seen it first hand. My daughter, Jody, spent more than four and half years as an inpatient being treated at the Health Centre.

I used to reflect on what it would be like for Maritime Families if the IWK was not here. A gift in a Will helps the Foundation with the security of knowing the funds are in place to allow us to continue to grow and provide care for future generations. It helps ensure the future will be stronger. Your planning is a part of how we help families.

Here is the top 10 things you can do today to leave a gift in your will to your favourite charitable cause.

Sincerely, Mary Theresa Ross, IWK Health Centre Foundation

Top 10 Things You Can Do Today to Leave a Legacy

1.) Prepare a will.

2.) Leave a gift in your will for the not-for-profit organization that makes a difference in your life.

3.) Leave a specific dollar amount or a percentage of your assets to a not-for-profit organization.

4.) Consider using assets for your legacy gift.

5.) Name a not-for-profit as a beneficiary of your RRSP, RRIF or pension plan.

6.) Name your favourite not-for-profit as the beneficiary of an existing life insurance policy.

7.) Purchase a new life insurance policy naming your favourite not-for-profit as the beneficiary.

8.) Remember loved ones with memorial gifts.

9.) Encourage family and friends to leave gifts to not-for-profit in their wills.

10.) Ask your financial or estate planning advisor to include charitable giving as part of your financial plan and to incorporate in their counsel to other clients.

Make a gift to the IWK Health Centre Foundation. 

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Breathing Space

This article was written by Tom Mason for the Spring/Summer issue of Izaak Magazine – an in-depth, behind the scenes, all-access publication highlighting the incredible, everyday happenings at the IWK Health Centre.Dr. Laine Johnson brings highly-specialized airway reconstruction surgery to the IWK

Larkin looks at the plastic fish and bubbles

Larkin looks at the plastic fish and bubbles

Larkin Pottle was born four years ago with tracheomalacia, bronchomalacia, and subglottic stenosis of her trachea — conditions that severely restricted her ability to breathe on her own. Her parents, Rhonda and Brent Pottle, struggled with the tracheotomy that allowed her to survive the process. As she grew, breathing on her own started to look

Like a possibility; surgery to allow this to happen was the next step for the Pottle family. Tracheotomies are one of the most vital surgical procedures in modern medicine, but they are actually very old. The surgery is depicted on Egyptian artifacts more than 5,000 years old and described in Sanskrit texts from around 2,000 BC. A tracheotomy involves placing a tube through an incision in the neck to bypass the nose and mouth and allow air directly into the trachea. Every year they save countless lives; but for most young children who have undergone the procedure,

a normal life doesn’t begin until the tube has been successfully removed. That can prove to be difficult.

Dr. Liane Johnson uses a scope to view Larkin's airway.

Dr. Liane Johnson uses a scope to view Larkin’s airway.

That’s where Dr. Liane Johnson comes in. Dr. Johnson is a pediatric airway surgeon at the IWK, the only doctor in Atlantic Canada to perform a specialized form of airway reconstruction surgery in children. The innovative technique involves using the child’s own rib cartilage to expand the scarred airway to attempt to achieve a normal diameter airway (air passage). Because the technique relies on tissue from the child’s own body, there are no issues with rejection.

Dr. Johnson learned the complex procedure during a two-year fellowship at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center under world-renowned pediatric otolaryngologist Dr. Robin Cotton, who pioneered the technique 30 years ago. She has already performed about 20 of the surgeries at the IWK. She says the procedure offers the patient and family a degree of independence that is life-changing.

“With proper patient selection, they can be very successful surgeries,” she says. “It’s rewarding to see the results.”

Larkin Pottle’s conditions were serious and because she needed constant medical care, Larkin could never be left alone. This left her family with the task of learning how to take care of her properly at home. Any kind of mucus plug or blockage of the tracheostomy tube could also be disastrous. It was a 24-hour-a-day job for Rhonda and Brent,

one that required plenty of professional help. “We had to get professional respite care at night so that we could get some sleep,” says Rhonda.

Rhonda Pottle cuddles her daughter Larkin Pottle as they wait for Larkin's appointment at the IWK.

Rhonda Pottle cuddles her daughter Larkin Pottle as they wait for Larkin’s appointment at the IWK.

Along with the basic skills that every new mother learns — feeding Larkin and changing her diapers — Rhonda quickly became adept at a number of medical techniques, including suctioning a tracheotomy tube and performing mouth to trach resuscitation. If Larkin accidentally removed the tracheostomy tube, the Larkin family had to be prepared to perform CPR.

“It’s not that difficult. Anyone can learn to do it as long as they’re not afraid of it,” says Rhonda. Larkin was approaching her second birthday when doctors discovered she was breathing through her nose and mouth around the tracheotomy tube. It was good news. It meant the airway was growing and the problem was correcting itself. But scar tissue had formed, and Larkin’s airway needed to be repaired before the incision in her trachea could be permanently closed.

This picture was taken at the level of the vocal cords showing complete obstruction of the subglottic airway, just beyond the vocal cords.

This picture was taken at the level of the vocal cords showing complete obstruction of the subglottic airway, just beyond the vocal cords.

Rhonda began the search for a doctor who could do the surgery. She and her husband had already made plans to travel from their Stephenville, Newfoundland home to Cincinnati to meet with Dr. Cotton when they heard about the IWK program. “I heard there was a doctor in Halifax who had studied with Dr. Cotton and was using the same procedure.” The Pottle’s first visit to Halifax was a little disappointing. Dr. Johnson examined Larkin and told the family to come back in three months for reassessment as it was

too soon for the operation. “That’s the hardest thing to say to parents: ‘She’s not ready,’” says Dr. Johnson. “But if you do the surgery too early the consequences can be devastating. The last thing I want to do is set up a spiral of failure. Sometimes it’s just safer to wait.”

This picture was taken just below the vocal cords showing a completely open subglottic airway following placement of rib grafts.

This picture was taken just below the vocal cords showing a completely open subglottic airway following placement of rib grafts.

When the day finally came, it was a long one. The Pottles spent eight hours waiting for Larkin’s surgery to end. Dr. Johnson constructed two rib grafts to expand the damaged airway, placing them carefully in the trachea below the little girl’s voice box. When it was over she was sedated and ventilated in the intensive care unit for nine days, but after stent removal she was soon breathing on her own. It was a success.

There have already been many milestones for the Pottle family. Larkin had a bout of the flu during the winter – a normal rite of passage for most four-year-olds, but one that would have brought on a serious medical crisis before the surgery. This time it was no big deal, says Rhonda. The family left for a Florida vacation in March, the first family trip since Larkin was born that didn’t centre around a medical appointment. Most importantly, Larkin is gaining a measure of independence that she didn’t have before. She’s getting ready to attend preschool and is making friends her own age for the first time. “She loves other kids,” says Rhonda. “Finally she can be a kid herself.”

To read the full issue of Izaak magazine visit www.iwkfoundation.org/izaak

Make a gift to the IWK Health Centre Foundation.


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Feel Good Friday

Time for our weekly peek at some of the letters we receive from families.  We read them all and share a few of our favourites.  Here is one from Amanda.

Keira, Brogan and Mairin Lawlor.

My family has spent a lot of time at the IWK over the past five years. My son, Brogan, was born there in 2006 and became a urology patient due to a hypospadias which required two surgeries to repair. He was a pretty healthy boy aside from that and we didn’t visit again until my 19 week ultrasound with our second child. At that time we discovered that we were having twins and that they suffered from a life threatening illness called Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome. Immediately we flew to Mount Sinai in Toronto for a specialized inutero surgery only available there. Following the surgery I was in the care of the FATC at the IWK with frequent visits until I developed pPROM at 23 weeks and was admitted to 7A on bedrest. I spent 8 weeks there until my girls were born at 31weeks gestation. Mairin & Keira spent nearly 7 weeks in the NICU and have had frequent appointments with numerous departments due to complications from the TTTS and prematurity. About 9 months after the girls were born Brogan suffered a seizure completely out of the blue. His seizures increased in frequency and we became patients at the neurology department for what was determined to be Epilepsy. As you can see we spend a great deal of time at the IWK and are so very thankful for the care provided to our children.

Thank you Amanda for sharing your story. If you’d like to share your story, email us at foundationmail@iwk.nshealth.ca.


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Feel Good Friday

Every Friday we like to share a letter that we receive from one of our families. We receive lots of letters, and take the time to read each and every one. Today’s Letter is from Emily Johnston.

Lily, 10 months old, wearing her first “Real” Pair of shoes.

Our IWK story began August 26 of 2011. Our Daughter Lily was born on June 21, 2011 with Bilateral Clubfeet, which is essentially that her feet were turned in at the ankle when she was born. We received treatment in PEI for 7 weeks after her birth, prior to being referred to the IWK. Lily was in double leg casts since she was less than 1 day old, until she was around 4 months old. She then moved into a boots and bar bracing system.

She has undergone 2 tendonotomy’s on her left foot, and 1 on her right at the IWK (where they clip her Achilles tendon, and stretch it), both of which were performed in the OR due to her being older than most babies undergoing this process. She has had some bumps along the road, with a relapse on her left side, breaking her casts from kicking so much, and blisters on her feet from her brace, but she is well on her way to walking any day now, at 11 months old, thanks to the Orthopedic Team at the IWK.

We have made about a dozen trips to the IWK for treatments for Lily since August.  It is about a 4 hour drive each way, but we are so happy with the treatment that our daughter receives in the Orthopedic clinic and that makes every minute worth the journey. All of the staff in the Orthopedic Clinic have been simply outstanding. They met us with smiles each appointment, and made us feel comfortable right away. They have shared in our laughter, tears, and are always there to answer any questions that we may have along the way. They have been great in not only treating Lily, but also with interacting with her big sister Eva, and us as well.  I tell everyone I know how amazing everyone is at the IWK, and I am so glad that we were able to bring our daughter there for treatment.

A HUGE THANK YOU to Lily’s Orthopedic team, Dr. Karl Logan,  Jennifer Muirhead, and Sharon Joyce to name a few, and to the all of the staff, residents, and volunteers of the Orthopedic Clinic, and the IWK

Thank you Emily for sharing your story with us. If you have a story that you would like to share email us at foundationmail@iwk.nshealth.ca.


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Miles to go

Anne Vaughan is a social worker with the IWK Health Centre

I have been privileged to serve many children, youth and families who come through the doors of the IWK Health Centre facing major health challenges. Some with rare, life-threatening conditions have had to fly to other centres for risky, complicated, life-saving surgeries. They have to go to Montreal, Toronto or London, Ontario; sometimes Boston, Washington, or even Calgary.

I have been with families when they are  told their child has to fly hours away from home and wait an unknown length of time to have surgical treatment; many become panicked and overwhelmed.

Often, these families have already travelled for hours, back and forth from their home communities in the Maritimes to the IWK Health Centre. They have rearranged their work and family lives. Sometimes one parent has had to live apart from the rest of the family to stay close to the young patient. And yet, they have to face yet another medical team, another surgery, a greater separation, and more expenses.

These brave, vulnerable children need their parents close to them as they face the unknown. They are often not old enough to understand what is happening and certainly not able to provide consent without their parents. Parents need to be with them to advocate and preserve their own peace of mind.

Besides the emotional difficulties, the financial burden on these families is enormous: a host of travelling and living expenses and, often, a loss of income when they cannot return to work as planned.  Sometimes there are community fundraisers to help them cope with these losses, but some feel embarrassed and guilty that they need to rely on friends and neighbours.

That’s why I am asking you to support Aeroplan’s Kid’s Horizons program that makes it possible for a parent to travel with their child for the cost of taxes only. All you have to do is donate Air Canada Aeroplan miles by going to www.aircanada.com/kids. On Wednesday, December 15 Air Canada will match every Aeroplan mile, one for one: in effect, doubling your donation.

If you could see what I see, you would understand how important this simple act of generosity can be to a parent fighting for a child’s health and wellbeing.