$3-million gift bolsters Edmonton hematology program

January 10, 2018

Philanthropy to support research, innovation, families and patient-centred care

EDMONTON — A gift to the University of Alberta Hospital (UAH) hematology program will soon give patients with blood diseases a place to spend time with their families, and give staff and physicians resources to expand research and develop innovations to improve their care.

Out of gratitude for the care he received at the UAH, Marshall Eliuk, an entrepreneur in the Peace River area of Alberta, donated $3 million to the University Hospital Foundation to fund research and innovation, and to improve patient care within the hematology program.

The newly renamed Marshall Eliuk Hematology Unit at the Alberta Health Services (AHS) facility will feature a family room where patients, family and friends can gather in privacy, or discuss care with the healthcare team. As many patients require extended stays on the unit, this quiet space will improve the patient and family experience.

“Mr. Eliuk’s generous donation will make a real difference for Alberta families struggling with blood diseases,” says Minister of Health Sarah Hoffman. “As part of our ongoing commitment to patient-centred care, we value partners like the University Hospital Foundation.”

The Marshall Eliuk Fund for Clinical Innovation and Exemplary Care in Hematology will help the UAH’s hematology team attract and retain top specialists and support research to bring scientific discoveries from the lab bench to the bedside sooner. Three inaugural research proposals have already been awarded more than $370,000 from the fund, which earlier invited applications from hematology researchers who wish to develop and establish new therapies or diagnostic tests.

Diagnosed in 1999 with a severe form of aplastic anemia, a rare and serious blood disease, Eliuk’s treatment program, which lasted nine months, required frequent red blood cell transfusions and platelets plus immunosuppressive drug therapy.

“My doctors at the UAH gave me no guarantees,” says Eliuk. “Fortunately, by the end of my treatment, my blood count had returned to normal. They called my recovery a miracle.”

“Marshall Eliuk is a respected businessman; a leader in the automotive industry in western Canada; and a generous donor who understands firsthand how lives are changed and saved at the University of Alberta Hospital,” says Don Wheaton, member of the University Hospital Foundation Board of Trustees. “He turned his personal gratitude for the miracle of his recovery into a transformational gift, one that will help others experience the same sensation of being given one’s life back.”

Eliuk remains a patient of the hematology program which monitors his health.

“We are so grateful for Mr. Eliuk’s extraordinary gift to our program,” says Dr. Loree Larratt, clinical hematologist at the UAH. “The creation of a family room will improve the patient experience on our unit, while the fund will expand education and training opportunities for healthcare staff on new technologies and treatments, as well as support the development of programs to advance patients’ care and education.”

The family room, now under construction, should be open for patients and families this spring.

“Foundations like the University Hospital Foundation and their donors make a significant impact on health delivery in so many ways,” says Dr. Verna Yiu, AHS President and CEO. “Thanks to the generosity of Mr. Eliuk, the hematology team at the UAH will be able to improve the patient experience for individuals diagnosed with blood diseases throughout their treatment and followup care.”

Hematology is the study of blood, the blood-forming organs and blood diseases. It includes the diagnosis, treatment, prognosis and prevention of blood diseases that affect the production of blood and its components. Patients on the hematology unit at the UAH receive a variety of services, including chemotherapy treatments, intravenous (IV) infusions, iron infusions and blood transfusions.

The UAH hematology program manages about 500 patients a year from across western and northern Canada for a variety of hematological diseases, including leukemia, lymphomas and a variety of bone marrow failure disorders including aplastic anemia. The program also manages patients with bleeding disorders including hemophilia, complicated clotting problems and hemoglobin disorders like sickle cell disease. The program works in partnership with the Cross Cancer Institute to manage blood cancer patients at both sites including bone marrow transplant patients.

The University Hospital Foundation raises and manages funds to advance patient care, research and healthcare education at the University of Alberta Hospital, the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute and the Kaye Edmonton Clinic.

Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than four million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans

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For media inquiries, contact:

Sharman Hnatiuk
AHS Communications

Nicole Merrifield
University Hospital Foundation