Ways to Give - Champions of Care - Dr. Neil Berrington
In January 2016, Barry Antonius was vacationing in Vancouver when he fell from the roof of his motorhome. Immediately, he felt a sharp pain in his back. For nearly a year, Barry lived with worsening pain, coping occasionally with over-the-counter painkillers. 

Barry’s walking was hindered. He couldn’t stand up straight, and it was affecting everything from doing chores to playing with his grandchildren. The only way he could lessen the pain was to walk with a deep hunch. 

He met with two doctors, both whom saw nothing urgent on his x-ray charts. They told Barry it would be a couple years before he could get an operation to relieve his pain, and to simply manage the pain in the meantime.  

But soon after, based on a personal recommendation from a friend, Barry sent his x-rays over to Dr. Neil Berrington, a neurosurgeon at HSC, for a third opinion. 

"When I went to see Dr. Berrington, I could not get off the examination table. I was in such pain that I could not get off my bed for a whole week.” 

In the days following, Dr. Berrington reviewed Barry’s files and spotted something on his chart that no other doctor saw: a nerve root was caught inside a crack along Barry’s spine. A slipped disc was pressing down on his nerve.

"It was extremely painful,” says Barry. "But Dr. Berrington found the reason why when nobody else did.”

It was a dangerous situation. One bump or fall could sever the nerve. And if that happened, Barry might never walk again.

One week later, Barry met with Dr. Berrington again, but this time for surgery to remove the disc and relieve the pressure. In about two hours, his surgery was over. Barry woke up and started getting dressed when a nurse walked in and asked him what he was doing. 

"Well, I’m going home,” said Barry. He said he felt that well. The pain was gone. 

A few weeks later, Barry was back to walking 15 kilometers a day. He could stand straight, walk normally, and enjoy the things he used to: golf, playing with his grandkids, and road trips. "I never took a painkiller after that day,” says Barry. "My back is now perfect.” 

"I knew I would eventually go somewhere for treatment. What I didn’t know was that I’d end up going to the best place I could with the best person I could: Dr. Berrington.”

Barry decided to make his first gift to the HSC Foundation through the Champions of Care program — a way for people to thank and honour someone at HSC who has made a meaningful difference in their life. 

Barry said he wants to recognize the amazing care he received from Dr. Berrington and his team and support them in their work. He’s happy his gift will make a difference for other patients, and hopes more Manitobans will join him in thanking the doctors and nurses who helped them by making a donation as well. Maybe then, says Barry, eventually no one will need to wait years for treatment.