When the whole of Quebec hit the pause button in March 2020, the Foundation didn’t have that same luxury. In response to the crisis, an unprecedented appeal was made to the public to help Sainte-Justine. And thousands of donors heeded the call, including pediatric neurosurgeon Alexander Weil, who pledged to make a personal donation of $100,000 once the recruiting target of 50,000 front-line donors had been reached.

Eight months after the Foundation reached out for support, the pandemic is still very much a reality in our lives, but we are stronger in the knowledge that more than 50,000 front-line donors stepped up to back our efforts.

To support this incredible outpouring of love and support for Sainte-Justine, Dr. Alexander Weil is proud to make good on the $100,000 pledge he made at the outset of the crisis. This substantial gift, alongside the donations you made straight from the heart, speaks volumes about the power of coming together as a community.

In this conversation with Dr. Weil, find out how people’s combined efforts are empowering Sainte-Justine to uphold its mission to help children and families throughout Quebec.

Dr. Weil, you were one of the first people to come forward and support the Foundation when the situation became critical. Why compelled you to do that?

With masks and changes in public health protocols, we’ve all had to deal with changes in our daily routines, but at the hospital we’ve seen a steady stream of families whose lives have been turned upside down by the pandemic. They are counting on us.

Scientific research really needs our support right now: I watched on as more than one lab had to close down at the beginning of the crisis. We have had to pull together, all of us, to keep research facilities like ours, which is home to so many world-class professionals, up and running.

The Foundation is a vital link in the chain of support for our researchers, whose importance is clearer than ever as this pandemic rages on. Together, we’re a team: patients, families, caregivers, researchers and donors. And together, we can move forward. This is the message I wanted to put out there by calling on people to become front-line donors.

In concrete terms, what kind of an impact do donors have on what you and your colleagues do? How does their support improve the lives of families?

You can see the impact everywhere in the hospital. By helping us acquire state-of-the-art equipment, they are giving us the tools to deliver the highest standard of medical care. By funding the Research Centre’s activities, they are enabling us to bring in new blood, purchase much-needed infrastructure, develop strategic projects, gain insight into disease and deliver more personalized treatment options to our patients.

For early-career researchers like me, their involvement is crucial: it helps us get our initiatives off the ground and explore innovative new ideas. And this is often the first step in sourcing additional funding, as countless examples have shown.

What’s your hope for the future of pediatric medicine?

I’m convinced that there are numerous developments on the horizon in terms of research and new medical technology in the next few years.

Sainte-Justine offers some of the very best care in the world. We are steadfast in our determination to constantly break new ground, and thank goodness for that! With our donors by our sides, we can keep pushing these boundaries.

Thank you, all of you, and thanks to Dr. Weil for joining forces with us. The events of the past year will remain in our minds for a long time to come — but the generosity of our donors will be etched in our hearts forever. It is our sincere hope that this bond continues to unite us for many years to come.