Historic $100-million gift will help to treat heart disease

Posted on September 23, 2017 in Health Debates

TheStar.com – Opinion/Editorial – Peter Munk said he wants to thank Canada for taking him in after he fled from the Nazis in the Second World War.
Sept. 23, 2017.   By

Imagine a wireless device that can be implanted in heart attack patients to virtually monitor their condition in real time so doctors can adjust treatments and prevent costly, potentially unnecessary hospitalizations.

It’s not a pipe dream. It’s real. Cardiologists at Toronto’s Peter Munk Cardiac Centre implanted the first one in a patient’s heart in June.

“Traditionally we’ve relied on a patient describing symptoms, and by then they may have already progressed to the point of hospitalization,” said Meredith Linghorne, a nurse practitioner at the centre. “With this device, we can see warning signs days in advance and adjust treatment accordingly.”

The device is just the beginning of the use of new technologies and artificial intelligence that could transform the lives of the 1.5 million Canadians living with the effects of cardiovascular disease, thanks to the generosity of Peter and Melanie Munk.

The Toronto couple has donated $175 million to the centre, part of the University Health Network, since 1993. That total includes the biggest single gift ever made to a hospital in Canada of $100 million, given this week.

The Munks, who are helping to make Toronto a global centre of innovative heart health care, are to be thanked.

Their donation will help to fund work that could prevent the deaths of the 30,000 Canadians killed by heart disease each year, not to mention prevent attacks in the 90 per cent of Canadians with at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

Indeed, the centre’s medical director, Barry Rubin, says the hospital will be able to use the gift “to predict and treat life-threatening cardiac problems before they occur.”

Peter Munk says it’s his way of giving back to the country that welcomed him in 1948 after his family fled the German invasion of Hungary. He went on to make a fortune in the mining business. “I just like to help Toronto because I want to repay Canada,” he told the Star this week.

He has done that — and more — in spades.


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