The gift of the IWK

An $8 mil­lion do­na­tion by the widow of Izaak Wal­ton Kil­lam in 1965 paved the way for the re­gion’s world-class chil­dren’s hos­pi­tal in Hal­i­fax

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - OPINION - BY DR. ALEX GIL­LIS Dr. Alex Gil­lis is the for­mer chief of surgery for the IWK Health Cen­tre.

Imag­ine if the IWK did not ex­ist. Imag­ine if pa­tients and fam­i­lies had to travel ex­ten­sively for spe­cial­ized care. Imag­ine if the IWK was un­avail­able as a source of train­ing and re­search that at­tracts and re­tains world­class pro­fes­sion­als. Imag­ine what it would be like for Mar­itime fam­i­lies lack­ing the com­pre­hen­sive ex­cel­lence of re­mark­able staff and count­less vol­un­teers. Sim­ply put, I can­not imag­ine our re­gion with­out the IWK.

So, it is fit­ting that to­day, the birth­day of Izaak Wal­ton Kil­lam, we pause to celebrate the im­pact of phi­lan­thropy on the evo­lu­tion of the IWK.

Born in 1885 in Yar­mouth, N.S., Izaak Wal­ton Kil­lam grew up mod­estly, yet went on to have an ex­tremely suc­cess­ful ca­reer in busi­ness. He di­rected that his es­tate should sup­port char­i­ties in Canada, with a spe­cial fo­cus in Nova Sco­tia and es­pe­cially in sup­port of ad­vance­ments in medicine, science and en­gi­neer­ing. As a me­mo­rial, his widow, Dorothy Kil­lam, do­nated $8 mil­lion in 1965 to­ward the con­struc­tion of a new fa­cil­ity for the care of chil­dren. Her re­mark­able gift ac­counted for ap­prox­i­mately 40 per cent of the con­struc­tion cost of the in­sti­tu­tion which opened in 1970 as the IWK Hos­pi­tal for Chil­dren. This trans­for­ma­tive do­na­tion set the stage for the growth of a world­class fa­cil­ity which con­tin­ues to serve women, chil­dren and fam­i­lies across our en­tire re­gion.

The Kil­lam gift fits well into a his­tor­i­cal spec­trum of decades of donor sup­port that has en­abled the in­sti­tu­tion to not only re­main vi­able, but to achieve a truly world-class rep­u­ta­tion for clin­i­cal care, teach­ing and re­search.

As a pe­di­atric sur­geon, I was priv­i­leged to be in­volved for many years in the work of the IWK. Like oth­ers, I was al­ways im­pressed by the re­silience of chil­dren and fam­i­lies faced with se­ri­ous health prob­lems. Many of these chil­dren rely on the IWK as their home away from home and re­gard their care teams as ex­tended fam­ily. And they regularly demon­strate strength be­yond their years.

Ad­di­tion­ally, I was equally im­pressed by the tremen­dous sup­port that we all re­ceived from the com­mu­nity of donors. I have seen the daily tan­gi­ble ben­e­fits that re­sult from their gen­eros­ity. Their sup­port is not a fringe ben­e­fit. It is es­sen­tial. Donors have en­abled the bar to be set high — and they keep it there! They de­serve the en­dur­ing grat­i­tude of the IWK and Mar­itime fam­i­lies served by the in­sti­tu­tion.

Ex­cel­lence must re­main the goal for all of us. And this can only be sus­tained if we all con­trib­ute as fully as pos­si­ble.

METRO NEWS HAL­I­FAX PHOTO

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