Donation from Domino’s Pizza CEO to create Manitoba epilepsy program
Mikaela Boulet had her first epileptic seizure when she was 14 years old. It was the first of many.
Medication and special diets couldn't stop the seizures. Today, however, she’s seizure free.
It's all thanks to a surgical procedure doctors performed on her brain. It stopped the seizures in their tracks, but it put her life on hold because the procedure wasn't available in Manitoba.
"It definitely was a burden," Boulet said. "I had to drop out of high school for a while so I could go and deal with my health."
She's far from alone. There are thousands of other Manitobans waiting for the out-of-province procedure.
"Currently, wait lists to refer these patients out-of-province are up to two years in some cases," said pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Demitre Serletis.
That is about to change.
Domino’s Pizza of Canada CEO Michael Schlater and his wife Lilibeth are donating $2 million to create a pediatric epilepsy and neurosurgery program at Children's Hospital of Winnipeg.
Schlater underwent the same procedure himself five years ago.
"Just unbelievable! You don't have seizures after it,” he said.
The program will consist of a new, two-bed monitoring unit, the hiring of two pediatric epilepsy neurologists, and the creation of a pediatric epilepsy surgery program.
The hospital will also be able to get a specialized robotic guidance system call ROSA. It helps neurosurgeons performing the very delicate operation.
"It's very exciting for us," said pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Colin Kazina. "We feel this is going to put Winnipeg on the map for pediatric epilepsy surgery, but also for epilepsy, complex care, for pediatric neurosurgery itself."
Planning for the new program has already started. The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority said it will not require any additional operating funding during the first two years of operation.
However, a spokesperson tells CTV News that if after two years of operation, "the demand for the program grows substantially, the child health program will, like any other WRHA program, need to request additional funding from the WRHA to address the growing demand."
The hospital hopes to begin seeing patients next year.