Matching gift from HSC Foundation Board member ignites donations for those at risk of MS diagnosis
The diagnosis of a chronic disease is hard to understand at any age-especially at age 21.
What Hilary Kaufman Lerner did understand as a young adult diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS)-a disabling disease of the central nervous system that causes life-altering, lifelong symptoms was that she wouldn’t let this discovery dictate her life for as long as possible. Kaufman Lerner filled the next 30 years with steadfast ambition, adventure, and love. At 27, Kaufman Lerner married Brian Lerner, and gave birth to their two children shortly after.
Despite the challenges of MS, Kaufman Lerner never missed an outing or her children’s extracurricular activities. Her determination never wavered, even when she could no longer walk.
Kaufman Lerner and her husband spent a lot of time at HSC Winnipeg under the care of Dr. Ruth Ann Marrie, HSC’s MS Clinic Director, until Kaufman Lerner passed in 2016.
“Dr. Marrie was always positive even when things were very difficult. Dr. Marrie and staff at the MS Clinic are very professional, caring, and treat their patients with respect,” says Brian Lerner.
Lerner’s interest in health care and his desire to make a difference led him to chair the Manitoba Division of the MS Society of Canada in 2009 and be part of the national MS Society Board. Later, he joined the HSC Foundation Board of Directors. “The HSC Foundation is incredibly well-run and focused on fulfilling its vision. I am very proud of my involvement with the Foundation,” says Lerner.
The vision of the HSC Foundation is to enable HSC to deliver tomorrow’s health care, today. And the future of MS prognosis and treatment strategies lies in part in ocular coherence tomograph (OCT) machines.
The OCT machine performs a simple, non-invasive procedure that allows doctors to analyze the optic nerve to see if there is swelling or inflammation, which can be the first indication of MS. In addition to other benefits, researchers hope that OCT will shorten the amount of time it takes to diagnose MS and allows for earlier and better tailoring of treatment. The OCT machine, which is less costly than brain MRls, is fast and could enable more frequent monitoring of disease activity in MS patients.
Upon hearing about the need for an OCT machine at HSC-and upon learning that it will benefit approximately 100 Manitobans annually-Lerner stepped forward with a significant matching donation.
In less than a month, over $100,000 was raised. “I witnessed how difficult MS is to deal with. Supporting Dr. Marrie, who is known world-wide, and the MS Clinic, means the best care is being done here, and we need it here,” says Lerner.
Canada has among the highest rates of MS in the world, and the Prairie Provinces are hit particularly hard.
“On behalf of the entire team, I am truly grateful for Brian Lerner and all donors who supported this equipment. Information from an OCT will be useful for predicting MS, and we now have an opportunity to be well-positioned and engage in an area that I think will be highly relevant to clinical practice,” says Dr. Marrie.
On World MS Day, consider a gift that will support those living with this disease. Donate by clicking here, or call 204-515-5612 or 1-800-679-8493 (toll-free).