The MUHC Foundation's Health Matters

Discover what we’ve accomplished together

July 24, 2022 The McGill University Health Centre Foundation Season 2 Episode 42
The MUHC Foundation's Health Matters
Discover what we’ve accomplished together
Show Notes Transcript

This week on Health Matters, Tarah Schwartz speaks with Dr. Steven Paraskevas about an important advancement for the islet transplant program at the MUHC. Dr. John Kimoff explains a new sleep apnea clinic that is helping patients sleep and breathe easier using wearable technology. How are research experiments performed and analyzed at the RI-MUHC? Patrice Vaillancourt bring us inside the lab. And, the MUHC Foundation’s annual report is out! We’ll share how your donations are changing the course of lives and medicine.

Cette semaine à Question de santé, Tarah Schwartz s’entretient avec le Dr Steven Paraskevas au sujet d’une avancée importante pour le programme de transplantation d’îlots de Langerhans au CUSM. Le Dr John Kimoff nous parlera aussi d’une nouvelle clinique d’apnée du sommeil, qui aide les patients à dormir et à respirer plus facilement grâce à une technologie portable. Nous nous demanderons également comment les expériences de recherche sont réalisées et analysées à l’IR-CUSM; Patrice Vaillancourt nous offrira une visite du laboratoire. Finalement, le rapport annuel de la Fondation du CUSM est sorti! Nous partagerons avec vous la façon dont vos dons transforment des vies et font évoluer la médecine.

Support the show

Follow us on social media | Suivez-nous sur les médias sociaux
Facebook | Linkedin | Instagram | Twitter | Youtube

Tarah Schwartz  00:00
Hello there. Thank you for joining us. I'm Tarah Schwartz and this is Health Matters on CJAD 800. On today's show nearly 860,000 Canadians live with sleep apnea. There is a new sleep clinic at the MUHC designed to help patients with this debilitating condition. Later, we'll speak with the head of the sleep lab, who will share how this clinic helps patients sleep and breathe easier. And the MUHC Foundation's annual report is out. We'll share how your donations have helped transform the McGill University Health Centre. To begin, a few weeks ago on health matters we spoke to Dr. Steven Paraskevas about the innovative and life changing islet transplant surgery. This unique transplant is changing the lives of some patients with type one diabetes by allowing them to live without insulin injections. Imagine that. Since we last spoke, there have been some very exciting updates about islet transplants and Quebec. Dr. Steven Paraskevas is a transplant surgeon at the MUHC and leads the pancreas and islet cell transplant programs. Dr. Paraskevas was actually the first surgeon in the province to perform this procedure. Thank you so much for being with us, Dr. Paraskevas.

Dr. Steven Paraskevas  01:14
Thank you. It's my pleasure.

Tarah Schwartz  01:16
So let's begin by reminding our listeners what is type one diabetes, and how does it impact a patient's life.

Dr. Steven Paraskevas  01:25
Type one diabetes is a disease in which a person's immune system destroys the islets, the cells in their pancreas that produce insulin, and renders it impossible for them to metabolize sugar properly. So they have no way of controlling their blood sugars.

Tarah Schwartz  01:49
And how does that impact a patient's life?

Dr. Steven Paraskevas  01:53
Essentially, type one diabetic has to take insulin injections to replace this lost function forever and tightly monitor and measure their blood sugar every day, taking just the right amount of insulin to keep the sugars under control. And some people lose the ability to sense when their sugars are getting too low, for example, which can be life threatening.

Tarah Schwartz  02:22
And if you don't manage your sugar, what happens to the body? So someone just can't manage their diabetes, what is the impact?

Dr. Steven Paraskevas  02:33
The impact of a lot of fluctuations or changes, rapid changes or extremes of blood sugar is very, very widespread throughout the body. It causes vascular disease. In many organs, and in particular, is a very common cause of renal failure, kidney failure, blindness, heart disease, and also vascular disease in the legs. For example, amputations and infections that can happen in diabetics are really a result of a lot of many years of extreme fluctuations in the sugars.

Tarah Schwartz  03:25
It sounds extremely significant the impact of not managing your sugar. How many people deal with type one diabetes in Quebec, in Canada? Do you have any numbers you can offer us?

Dr. Steven Paraskevas  03:37
There are certainly in the hundreds of 1000s of people who deal with type one diabetes across the country. And, 1000s in Quebec. In particular, we feel that there are a significant number who deal with this inability to sense their low blood sugars; what we call a situation of brittle diabetes where even a small amount of insulin can result in drop in their sugars to a dangerous level. There may be hundreds of people living with that situation in Quebec, who almost can't function. They can't drive, they can't even sleep through the night sometimes they have to have someone wake them up or they set glucose alarms that can wake them up to test their sugars. But their quality of life is extremely poor as a result of this situation.

Tarah Schwartz  04:51
We are speaking with Dr. Steven Paraskevas, a transplant surgeon at the MUHC and we're talking about life changing islet transplant surgery. Now what does it mean Dr. Paraskevas for the MUHC to be designated a provincial center for islet transplant.

Dr. Steven Paraskevas  05:07
We've adapted this procedure, which is now administered in in a number of countries around the world. Now that we have the provincial government, the Ministry of Health and Social Services support, will be able to really invest in the program and grow the program, in terms of the resources available to make this treatment available to people who can benefit from it.

Tarah Schwartz  05:41
I imagine you've been advocating for the MUHC to receive this for quite a while.

Dr. Steven Paraskevas  05:46

It's been a process; I have to say. I've been here for 20 years, and the project has been almost that long in the making. We had years where we were building and developing our infrastructure; a special clean room that we use to produce the islet graphs and training personnel that work there. And then in the last, say, 5-6 years petitioning the ministry to approve this and and also do health economic studies that showed that the procedure is cost-effective.

Tarah Schwartz  06:36
And how will this help treat and care for patients at the MUHC moving forward?

Dr. Steven Paraskevas  06:43
We are entering an era of more and more advanced treatments for type one diabetes. With this advancement, we're able to offer diabetics who might benefit these types of transplants that can free them from taking insulin and monitoring their sugars. We're entering an era where these cells will be eventually grown from stem cells. And we're just seeing the very, very first potential product in that regard. And we'd like to position the MUHC to be the center where these advanced treatments are rolled out.

Tarah Schwartz  07:30
I'm sure for some people who have type one diabetes, or someone who loves someone who has it is thinking my goodness, like what change has happened that some people who are living with this can now have this transplant and not have to deal with insulin their entire lives. What was it like to be the first doctor to perform this surgery in the province and to see how it's grown and changed and how it could be impacting 1000s of people?

Dr. Steven Paraskevas  07:53
I'd say gratifying, it's obviously something that has been a personal goal of mine for many years. But it is a big team effort. I'm not in this alone. I have a great group of people who I work with, and in fact, the procedure itself is done by our interventional radiologists. So my role as a surgeon is somewhat different now. But it is very gratifying and it's great to see patients responding well and the excitement that they have after many years of taking insulin, of being able to stop it.

Tarah Schwartz  08:37

I'm sure it must be an absolutely wonderful feeling. We're speaking with Dr. Steven Paraskevas. We're talking about life changing islet transplant surgery for some people who are living with type one diabetes. Now, Dr. Paraskevas, I know there are many criteria. But if there is someone listening, who has type one diabetes that is hard to control. What would you like them to know about the islet transplant?

Dr. Steven Paraskevas  09:01
In particular, if they are finding that even with more modern ways of administering insulin through sensor-driven pumps and that sort of thing. If they still find that they have very unsatisfactory control, we're happy to meet with them. They can call our program or email our program at islet transplant at MUHC dot McGill dot C-A. Our pretransplant coordinator will get in touch with them and discuss their situation. And we can help to see if islet transplantation is a potential option for them.

Tarah Schwartz  09:49
How long does it take to do a transplant?

Dr. Steven Paraskevas  09:54
The interesting thing is that very minimally-invasive procedure. The patient is actually awake. It takes about 30-45 minutes to do in radiology. But prior to that there's a good three days of work to produce the graphs and the team in the in the clean room works about 12 hours to take a deceased donors pancreas and purify from that the tiny cell clusters, which we call islets, which look like small grains of sand. Then it's three days of making sure they're in good shape for transplant. Then the procedure itself is relatively innocuous.

Tarah Schwartz  10:41
Does it surprise you at any time how much things have changed and how much they've advanced and the ability to change people's lives in a different way than even 10 years? Five years ago in some cases?

Dr. Steven Paraskevas  10:55
It's amazing to see for sure. The community in general is very excited because there have been a number of similar decisions made by public systems in France, in the US in the last couple of years. So we're really arriving at the point where this is becoming a standard of care. And we're looking for the next stage where the islets will be, like I said, grown from stem cells and that it's on the horizon for sure.

Tarah Schwartz  11:24
Which is extremely exciting. Dr. Steven Paraskevas. I want to thank you so much for coming on Health Matters. It's been very enlightened to talk to you. It's really wonderful what you're doing and how you're helping so many people. Thank you for being our guest today.

Dr. Steven Paraskevas  11:36
Thank you for your time, Tarah.

Tarah Schwartz  11:38
Next up on Health Matters. The MUHC has a new clinic for patients with sleep apnea. Discover how it's helping patients sleep and breathe easier using wearable technology. I'm Tarah Schwartz. Welcome back to Health Matters on CJAD 800. How are you sleeping? Not sleeping well can have a big impact on our day to day lives. And there are a variety of health issues that can contribute to not getting restful sleep. Did you know the MUHC has a sleep lab? The lab studies patients with breathing related issues that may prevent them from sleeping by using wearable technology. Dr. John Kimoff is an associate physician and the director of the sleep laboratory at the MUHC. Thank you so much for joining us, Dr. Kimoff.

Dr. John Kimoff  12:24
It's a pleasure to be here, Tarah.

Tarah Schwartz  12:26
Tell us about the sleep lab. Let's take people inside the sleep lab. Describe to us what it's like other beds and people sleeping, what would someone see?

Dr. John Kimoff  12:36
We like to think that we're fortunate the Glen because we have a nice new facility. Better than then we used to have back at the old Royal Victoria. It's kind of like a bit of a formalized hotel. You have an individual room with your own washroom and you come in, in the evening. We do also daytime studies for some people who work nights and sleep daytime. But most of our patients are there at night. You come in and you have a technician who meets you and basically tapes a whole bunch of wires and sensors to you, on your head, your face, bands around your ribcage, your abdomen, a probe on your finger, something in your nose to measure breathing. And we record your breathing during sleep but also your sleep and we analyze sleep based on patterns of the brainwaves, eye movements and muscle activity.

Tarah Schwartz  13:30
Very much like we see in the movies on TV, it sounds like it's what we'd be looking at. What kinds of patients come to the sleep lab? What kinds of troubles are people complaining about where they get to go in and test out what's happening and what's wrong?

Dr. John Kimoff  13:43
Well, you mentioned people with sleep-related breathing disorders, so sleep apnea and hypoventilation. We also deal with a spectrum of non-breathing sleep disorders, including narcolepsy, people who have abnormal movements or behaviors during the night, and so forth. Those people, we like to have them in the lab, not only so we can record them with our electrical equipment, but do video recordings and correlate behavior at night with what we're seeing on their brainwaves and their breathing and so forth. So the people with breathing problems, we tend to bring more complex cases there. Whereas, for people who have a more suspected or known straightforward sleep apnea case, we can study them with our home sleep testing program.

Tarah Schwartz  14:38
And so what is the difference basically, how you're being monitored, what you're looking at for someone who would go to a sleep lab versus someone that you could study at home?

Dr. John Kimoff  14:48
The home recorders that we have, the ones that are shown to be accurate record basically breathing efforts using bands. They record your oxygen level using the probe on the finger and they record breathing airflow with a little tube in the nose and over the mouth. And, patients who are able to come back and forth easily from the hospital- patients in whom we don't expect any other kind of abnormal behaviors or neurological problems- are the people that we would study there. People who have insomnia, difficulty getting to sleep and staying asleep, we tend not to study them with the home recorder, but to bring them into the lab so that we know when they're awake and when they're asleep.

Tarah Schwartz  15:44
We're speaking with Dr. John Kimoff, associate physician and the director of the sleep laboratory at the MUHC, we're talking about not sleeping well. Dr. Kimoff, I think it's fair to say that a fair number of people use wearable smartphone apps to analyze their sleeping. To find out when they're waking up, if they've had a good night's sleep.  What stock do you put in those? Are they reliable? Are they helpful?

Dr. John Kimoff  16:09
I think they absolutely have their place. And I think that we see this with the folks that we talked to. You have to remember that that those devices are not measuring the same types of signals in the same detail. And with the same type of analysis that we do in a formal, conventional sleep study. Nonetheless, useful information can be obtained. So data about light sleep, deep sleep. Depending on the app and of course, as with all things, these apps and wearables are not all created equal. So some of the mainstream companies; Apple, iWatch, Garmin, Fitbit, they've actually gotten some validation for their devices. You have to be careful about that. But there's useful information that can be helpful.

Tarah Schwartz  17:01
But they can they diagnose medical conditions like sleep apnea, or is that beyond their capabilities?

Dr. John Kimoff  17:07
I don't think I asked you before but help us to understand what exactly sleep apnea is. How do you describe that? That's an exciting area. Going from the very detailed labor intensive and expensive in-laboratory polysomnography or sleep study. Going from that to what we're doing now, with our ambulatory monitors, we would like to be able to broaden and simplify our ability to diagnose sleep apnea, we can't yet do that. You can't yet reliably get a sleep apnea diagnosis from a smartphone or a wearable device. But we're getting a lot closer. We're excited about that and we're actively looking into those issues and working on that. It's the most common problem of breathing during sleep. The most common form of apnea is obstructive sleep apnea where the upper airway, the breathing passage, actually closes off due to laxity or relaxation of the muscles during sleep. This actually affects you know, as many as 6% of women and 13% of men and in the general population, it's a very prevalent condition. So these are people who often have a history of snoring but not always. Not all snorers have sleep apnea, but most obstructive sleep apnea patients will have snoring or in the history of snoring. That's one of the signs and then if you're a snorer who, despite sleeping well at night or feeling you sleep well at night. But you wake up tired, you're sleepy during the day, despite having an adequate sleep duration at night that suggested that you could have a breathing problem during sleep.

Tarah Schwartz  19:00
Dr. John Kimoff is an Associate physician and director of the sleep lab at the MUHC. We're talking about something that I think a lot of people would say impacts them- their sleep or not sleeping well. I wonder Dr. Kimoff, I'm sort of throwing myself into the situation. I think I used to sleep better and maybe as I'm getting older I'm not sleeping as well or I'm sleeping less. When do you know if it's just I'm not a great sleeper or you should be seeking help? I think a lot of people might say they don't sleep well. Is it today's world? Is it our technology that we're staying on too long? How do you know when it's a problem versus when something you can work on yourself?

Dr. John Kimoff  19:39
It's a big question. It's a good question. It's a big one. One thing is if you start maybe easier and work down. If you feel like you are actually getting a reasonable night's sleep and you wake up and you're always exhausted and you're tired during the daytime, there's a problem there. Okay, so that's one red flag. Now, as you say, the subjective sensation of either difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep, waking up frequently in the middle of the night and then waking up on refreshed and you tired during the day or sleepy during the day. So the list of potential causes for that is long. This will happen in every normal person will have some variation in how much they sleep. Everybody can have a bad night, everybody can have a good night and so forth. If there's a pattern though; that your sleep has changed, that you really can't get to sleep, can't maintain, there are many factors that can contribute to that. Sleep hygiene- there's a lot of things about the ABCs of getting a good night's sleep. The sleep environment, don't bring work into bed, don't bring stress into bed, get your TV out of your bedroom. So the bedroom is for sleep, and maybe one or two other relaxing activities, but focus on that. Regular sleep hours, getting physical activities. Physical activity is very important for most people to help promote sleep. You should exercise regularly, but for most people, we say not within the two or three hours before your intended bedtime. Because the exercise is stimulating. Caffeine- so coffee and tea and cola drinks, to be avoided. One of the biggest factors is light exposure and screen time. This is a major determinant of late sleep onset and disrupted sleep at night. You wake up in the middle of the night, and you just oh, I'm going to just check my phone and take a look at the news. Because then you not only have a light stimulus which disrupts sleep and is alerting but you get into world affairs and the latest happening wherever, with whatever. Then your brain gets engaged in that.

Tarah Schwartz  22:18
Thank you so much for joining us Dr. Kimoff. I'm going to tell our listeners about the joke I made with you before we came on. If Dr. Kimoff ever wanted to have a new career, he could read bedtime stories about all those very popular apps now, Dr. Kimoff. I'm saying that it could be a potential side job for you as a sleep physician.

Dr. John Kimoff  22:36
Okay, I'll consider your recommendation. Thank you very much, Tarah. I appreciate this opportunity.

Tarah Schwartz  22:41
Thank you Dr. Kimoff always fun talking to you. Coming up on Health Matters, there are many experiments that are conducted at the Research Institute of the MUHC, how are they performed and how are the results analyzed? Find out next. I'm Tarah Schwartz. And this is Health Matters. There are numerous research projects and studies being conducted at the RI-MUHC and many of these projects require experiments to be conducted and analyzed. So how does that happen? Patrice Vaillancourt is the manager of operations and platforms at the Research Institute of the MUHC's Centre for Translational biology. Thank you so much for joining us.

Patrice Vaillancourt  23:23
Thank you, Tarah for the invitation. I'm really happy to be here.

Tarah Schwartz  23:26
We're happy to have you. Patrice, some titles are easier to understand than others. What is your role as manager of operations and platforms at the Research Institute? What does that entail?

Patrice Vaillancourt  23:40
My role is really to oversee the management of the nine technology platforms that we have at the Research Institute.  I help facilitate the operational activities and together with the platforms and our committees, we really want to make sure that those services those important technologies, serve well the community that they meet their needs. And more importantly, if as you can imagine, as needs change and the way we do research progresses, that the platforms evolve, and they keep providing the best support for doing groundbreaking research for our community.

Tarah Schwartz  24:19
You mentioned Patrice that there were nine technology platforms. What are some of those or even list them off? I'd be curious to know what they are.

Patrice Vaillancourt  24:27
We have a wide array of platforms and of technologies that range all the way from common equipment or commonly used equipment in histology but also that have more advanced instrumentation such as nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, so very cool instrumentation, powerful and state of the art.

Tarah Schwartz  24:51
And how what do these platforms help with having you mentioned all these? What does it help with?

Patrice Vaillancourt  24:58
I like to call them, Tarah; a one stop shop. Because they are open to the community, to the investigators, their trainees, and anyone who works at the institution. Even from other academic institutions, they come to work with us. And they can access to those facilities to really get important and significant support and using technologies which are not commonly found in a laboratory. So those are advanced technologies, they come work with the people, get consultation on what should be the best experimental approach to use, then they get trained on how to use the instrumentation. They even get support for when it comes time to analyze the data and interpret the data. These are really the backbone at the Research Institute that help the community do groundbreaking and world class research.

Tarah Schwartz  25:53
I love that. Patrice Vaillancourt is the manager of operations and platforms at the Research Institute's Centre for translational biology. We're talking about how research projects are conducted, how researchers are offered up different equipment and technologies that they can use to advance their research. Patrice, you mentioned a couple of very interesting sounding pieces of equipment. Do you have any numbers just out of curiosity, how many pieces of equipment are there with all these platforms?

Patrice Vaillancourt  26:19
Absolutely, Tarah, we have more than 50 different instruments that are distributed across our platforms. So as I mentioned, those are state of the art and advanced technologies. And they really use different experimental approaches and technologies. For example, we have a facility that molecular imaging platforms, uses microscopy to produce amazing images, and even live movies of biological events that happen in cells. All the way to a containment level three facility, which has the highest biosecurity to work with live and potentially dangerous pathogens, such as COVID, or tuberculosis, for example. So a very wide range of different instrumentation that allow multiple applications that are so important to research and for investigators to advance their research and do world class science.

Tarah Schwartz  27:21
I wonder, but is this relatively new what you're doing? When did a department like yours become operational considering that we revolve around technology in a lot of ways right now. But I think that there has been a period of growth with technology, certainly in the medical field. How new is this? And how much has changed in the last 5-10-20 years?

Patrice Vaillancourt  27:46
Technology platforms are not so new. This is a concept that has existed for quite some time, and in many institutions, internationally. Certainly for the Research Institute, it was a priority to function in the same way. To centralize these technologies and these facilities to really facilitate access. You just mentioned that technology evolve; absolutely. As you can imagine, as our understanding of how diseases and pathologies are triggered, such as cancer, the technology also progresses constantly, to enable new tools and more powerful ways to investigate and to go deeper into the subject.

Tarah Schwartz  28:35
It sounds absolutely fascinating. What do you love most about what you do, Patrice?

Patrice Vaillancourt  28:43
First of all, I need to say that, instrumentation, and technology is great, but it's really the people who work behind those facilities that are the key to success for researchers to progress, right? So working with these individuals, these passionate people who are scientists and professionals, and the way that I've seen projects evolving, new approaches, and new ideas that are generated from this is really stimulating. For me, my background is in research, but working with all these talented people is what motivates me every day, to continue and to help our community with their research and to progress.

Tarah Schwartz  29:31
You mentioned that his instrumentation and technology and you've mentioned in some of your answers, different instrumentation, different pieces of technology, what they do, like you said, making videos out of cells. Tell us a little bit more in depth about one instrument, one technology, something that you could share with us that you could help us see something that it does.

Patrice Vaillancourt  29:53
One example I could I could give you is, our proteomics platform. Their goal and what they do is they use instruments called mass spectrometers. They really look for the extraction of proteins in tissues and in biological fluids, such as blood or urine. What they look for is with specific pathologies or diseases or even with cancer, what happens to these proteins. From understanding this, you can then set yourself new approaches or potentially even targets to treat a particular cancer which has been proven not to respond well to a specific treatment. They look at proteins. Proteins are very important because they are the way for cells. They dictate everything in the body and how the cells communicate between each other. The same way in cancer, what happens in cancer to those proteins? And how are they modified and what changes? Those are really pieces of the solution to work towards finding new approaches and understanding better what happens with certain specific pathologies, for example.

Tarah Schwartz  31:14
That is an interesting example, Patrice Vaillancourt is the manager of operations and platforms at the Research Institute's Centre for Translational Biology, we're talking about how research projects are conducted. Patrice, researchers that begin in the Research Institute of the MUHC, or those who have been there for decades. Is your department something that they are fascinated by? How they can go into where you work, and see all these fascinating pieces of equipment and see how it's going to help them help others?

Patrice Vaillancourt  31:45
Yes, absolutely. Of course, we had to adapt during the last couple of years for a situation we all are familiar with. But we make sure for any new recruits and investigators that join the Research Institute that they are made aware of what facilities are available to them and their teams, and what is the best way for them to access those services. But we have seasoned users who have been there for a very long time. And I have to say the way that we do research now is evolved. Since 2015, when we moved to this new facilities, things changed. And because we developed those centralized centers of technology, people are now able to access applications and expertise that they did not have access to before or they had to go and collaborate with other institutions and other collaborators to do these things. So absolutely, we always make sure that our community is well aware of the developments of what is new and what services which will be groundbreaking for helping them push forward their research. Patrice Vaillancourt, really, really interesting. Thank you so much for joining us on the show today. We appreciate your time. It was my pleasure, Tarah.

Tarah Schwartz  33:12
Coming up on Health Matters, the MUHC Foundation's annual report is now available. Learn how your donations are changing the course of lives and medicine. I'm Tarah Schwartz, you're listening to Health Matters. At the MUHC Foundation, we believe in transparency. We want the donors in our community to know exactly how your hard earned money is being used to support the doctors, researchers and clinician scientists at the MUHC and the Research Institute of the MUHC. I have the privilege of leading an extraordinary team of communications and marketing professionals at the MUHC foundation. You've already met Kelly Albert, who produces the show among so many other wonderful things. Today, you'll meet Tara Simonetta Mann, who is the senior writer of the MUHC Foundation. And she joins me now to discuss the annual report. Yes, another Tara is what I want to say. Because that's what people say, when they meet us both. Hey, there.

Tara Simonetta Mann  34:05
Thanks for having me, Tarah.

Tarah Schwartz  34:08
As the senior writer, you get to share a lot of really wonderful stories. Do you have a story in particular that moved you that you would like to share with our listeners?

Tara Simonetta Mann  34:20
Yes, recently, I got to tell the story of Howard Goldstein. He had a heart attack that nearly killed him a few years ago and he only survived thanks to the amazing care at the MUHC's ICU. I got to interview him and hear about this ordeal and about his health today. He's still on the list for a heart transplant. It was such a privilege to tell his story and incredibly moving to learn that even though his health is still not great today. He got to walk his daughters down the aisle at their weddings this past year. It was just such a beautiful thing to learn, and I was so honored to tell his story.

Tarah Schwartz  35:02
That is a lovely one. There are so many but that's a great choice. Tara Simonetta Mann, let's talk about the annual report, which our team has been working on for the last couple of months. What does the annual report feature?

Tara Simonetta Mann  35:16
The annual report this year features some really amazing stories about the impact that our donors are having on health care. So anytime someone gives the MUHC Foundation, that money is going towards amazing projects to improve patient care, research, and some teaching as well at the hospital. When you look at the annual report, you'll find a timeline, you'll find stories, messages from our leadership, media hits, recaps of events from the past year. And of course, the honor roll, which was all of our donors who gave the level of $250 and up.

Tarah Schwartz  35:57
We're speaking with Tara Simonetta Mann, who is the senior writer at the MUHC Foundation, and we're talking about the value of an annual report which all businesses produce or should produce every year. Now Tara, you are instrumental in delivering the MUHC Foundation's annual report which came out this past week. Why is it important for people to take the time to look at it? It's not very long, but why should people take the time to look at it?

Tara Simonetta Mann  36:24
It's so important to look at because to all of our supporters, it's for you. It's to show you how your gift is making a difference for real people in our community who are seeking health care at MUHC. And for anyone who hasn't given to the MUHC Foundation, but is thinking about it, I really encourage you to take a look. See what kind of impact that your gift can have.

Tarah Schwartz  36:47
I think that's a great way to phrase it. Because whether you've given or thinking about giving; an annual report can show you exactly where donations go, who they help, how they help. Now, earlier I mentioned transparency, and I mean financial transparency. How does the Annual Report deliver on that promise to show financial transparency so people know where their money's going and how it's being spent?

Tara Simonetta Mann  37:13
In the annual report, we have our full financial statements. You can find them in the financial section on the site, and you can see exactly our revenues, our expenditures, everything. We also have a breakdown graphs of where donations are coming from and where they're going.

Tarah Schwartz  37:32
Now there are many wonderful stories showcased in our annual report this year. What are some of your favorite stories or projects that are featured in this year's Annual Report?

Tara Simonetta Mann  37:44
One of my favorites is the story of Dr. Sarkis Meterissian. Last fall, he pledged to shave his head to raise funds for the Breast Cancer Wellness Program at MUHC, which provides a range of services to women undergoing breast cancer treatment. When we started the campaign, he wanted to raise $50,000. And he had raised that within about a week. So the goal kept growing and growing. And by the time the shave came he had raised over $300,000 to support his patients. It was so emotional when he shaved his head because some of his patients were there and he was doing this for them.

Tarah Schwartz  38:26
Yeah, that was such a beautiful story. I'm sure if you've been listening to help matters for a while. We covered that extensively with Dr. Sarkis Meterissian. We had him on the show. We had his patients on the show. It really was a wonderful example of community rallying together behind a cause. And that's a wonderful story. Is there another one that touched you?

Tara Simonetta Mann  38:45
I really enjoy the story about World Cancer Day. It was an initiative that we put together in February. World Cancer Day on February 4, and we wanted to bring our community together to support cancer research at the MUHC. We have some really amazing researchers who are using new techniques such as liquid biopsy, which is using blood to diagnose and monitor cancer in real time to ensure that patients have the best opportunity to receive the best treatment at the right time. We put together the campaign we set a goal of $40,000. We found an amazing matching donor, Ferron Campbell. When we launched we blew past our goal and raised $70,000. People were so engaged and so interested in caring about cancer research and we were so pleased.

Tarah Schwartz  39:39
Yeah, that's another great one. Whenever you start you know mentioning them, it takes me back to when we did launch those campaigns and how engaged people were and how you really feel like you are making a difference. Now we've had a couple of people from the MUHC Foundation on Health Matters, which I love doing. And I tend to ask what is your favorite part of your job before I let you go what is what is a favorite part of what you do every day?

Tara Simonetta Mann  40:00

My favorite thing is working as a team to produce amazing content that inspires our donors to give but also shows them how their donation is making a difference. I really believe in our cause and in supporting research and health care and patient care. So I just love the fact that I get to learn about this amazing research and programs every day and put them down on the page or on the web for our donors to read.

Tarah Schwartz  40:33
A wonderful answer. I feel exactly the same way. Tara Simonetta Mann, I want to thank you for joining us on Health Matters and for the amazing work that you do every day. You're like an amazing part of the team that we have, and I value you. So thank you so much for being on the show.

Tara Simonetta Mann  40:47
Thank you, Tarah.

Tarah Schwartz  40:48

And now I encourage every one of our listeners to go and take a look at the MUHC Foundation's annual report. You can find it and read all about the different stories you've just heard about talk, see about the financials, you can see what we're doing and it's all at triple w do MUHC foundation dot com. I'm Tarah Schwartz, thank you for tuning in. What would you like to hear about on the show? Write to me at health matters at MUHC Foundation dot com. You can also follow us on social media or sign up for our newsletter or as mentioned, go read our annual report. It's all at triple w dot MUHC Foundation dot com. I hope you'll join me again next Sunday. Thanks so much for listening to Health Matters and stay healthy.