CHEO aiming to raise $25 million

It was almost five years ago that Donna Gudbranson received the news no mother should ever have to hear.

It was almost five years ago that Donna Gudbranson received the news no mother should ever have to hear.

Then six years old, her son Dennis had suffered a cold for weeks. He was fatigued, had an ear infection, was pale and had bruising in odd places.

Although Gudbranson knew something was wrong, she wasn’t prepared for the diagnosis in April 2004 — cancer.

Acute myeloid leukemia, to be exact.

“I never expected it in a thousand years,” she said.

After six months of treatment — including five rounds of chemotherapy at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, a relapse and a bone marrow transplant, Dennis, now 11, has been in remission for more than three years.

Mother and son were on hand to share their story as CHEO physicians announced a $1-million investment to kick off an initiative to raise $25 million for clinical research and updated equipment at the hospital.

“I think this is amazing,” said Gudbranson of Big Steps. “It will allow children to receive treatment in Ottawa, taking away the stress of travelling for treatment.

“We have amazing minds here,” Gudbranson said. “And if we had the money, we could get the equipment and the treatment.”

That’s what this campaign is about, CHEO CEO Michel Bilodeau said. The campaign will raise money for research and equipment, so that physicians will have the tools to provide the best care possible, he said.

Of the $25 million, $15 million will go to research and $10 million to state-of-the-art technology.

“It’s important that physicians and staff support these goals,” Bilodeau said.

“As physicians, we know that a thriving research environment will lead to better quality of care for children and youth,” said Dr. Carrol Pitters, chairwoman of the Children’s Hospital Academic Medical Organization. “The children and youth at CHEO will be the first to benefit from new discoveries and treatments.”

Research is essential to understanding pediatric disease, said director of clinical research and emergency physician Dr. Martin Osmond. “And equipment and the latest techniques will allow CHEO to remain on the forefront.”

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