For dialysis, sometimes there’s no place like home.

Pat Watson didn’t let chronic kidney disease keep her down; she always lived life to the fullest. In fact, when her nephrologist (her kidney specialist, Dr. Alistair Ingram) was asked to describe her, he said, “The word that immediately comes to mind when I think of Pat is quite simply, ‘fun’. I’m sure it could sound strange for a doctor to describe his patient, who was living with chronic kidney disease and on dialysis, as fun…but that’s the truth of it. Pat was a whole lot of fun.”

Determined to retain as much of her normal life as possible, Pat decided to take part in St. Joseph’s Home Peritoneal Dialysis Program. The program provides extensive teaching, training and follow-up for patients and their caregivers to empower them to take an active role in their care. Once fully trained, the program offers patients the ability and the tools to dialyze independently, in the comfort of their own home. The program also offers patients the flexibility to perform dialysis at night while they sleep, and even while they’re away or traveling.

Having this kind of flexibility is largely because the patient doesn’t have to travel to the Hospital several times a week, for several hours each time, to receive hemodialysis. Pat continued to care for her dialysis needs at home for 11 years, and during that time she kept very busy with friends and travel. “I was never exactly sure where Pat was”, said Dr. Ingram. “I vividly remember a call from the back of an ambulance in New Zealand, when Pat ran into a bit of difficulty, and will remember that call forever!”.

Pat passed away in 2006 following a lengthy and courageous battle with kidney disease, and having seen much more of the world than most healthy people will in their lifetimes. Her husband, chief enabler, constant sidekick and travelling companion, Mike, and their two daughters, Laura and Emma, wanted to honour Pat’s memory with a generous gift that would directly benefit patients in the Dialysis Program at St. Joe’s…patients just like Pat.

Together, the Watson family decided to make a $50,000 donation to St. Joe’s in recognition of the care provided by Dr. Ingram and the dialysis team. “Our family is so very grateful to the entire Dialysis team at St. Joe’s,” says Mike. “They are a great group of people doing a fabulous job. They cared for Pat like family and we’re happy to give back so that others too, can benefit from the level of care they provide.” The gift was made through the donation of publicly traded shares of stock – a tax effective giving strategy that can help to offset capital gains tax while also supporting a worthy cause.

Their donation helped St. Joe’s to purchase two point-of-care ultrasound machines for the newly renovated Jack and Jean Marchese Dialysis Centre at the Charlton Campus. These portable machines are essential tools for patients receiving living-saving dialysis care, both at home and in the Hospital. While these pieces of equipment are essential to the care our Hospital provides, they’re not something that’s funded by the operating dollars St. Joe’s receives from the province. That’s why donations like this one, from the Watson family, are so important.

Pat Watson’s joyful spirit will live on at our Hospital as the equipment purchased with a gift made in her memory will help countless other people living with the same condition she did. May her fun spirit also inspire others to refuse to let their condition define them. Be like Pat. Be fun. Be empowered. Be kind.

Image (left to right): Laura, Mike and Emma Watson with Dr. Ingram and the two ultrasound machines that were purchased with their donation.