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'Immense gratitude' as Children’s Hospital secures its largest-ever donation


The largest donation ever to London, Ont.’s Children's Hospital generated multiple expressions of gratitude on Monday.

But perhaps the most powerful words came from a paediatric oncologist.

She broke with emotion as a $5-million gift from the Jahnke family was revealed.

“It is with immense gratitude that I thank the Jahnke family today for investing in hope,” said Dr. Alexandra Zorzi. “Not only in the children and families we serve today but for those we have yet to meet.”

The donation will create the Paediatric Oncology Centre of Excellence.

Children’s Hospital President Nash Syed said its creation will eventually give children and their family’s direct access to care through “reimagined spaces.”

It will also provide funding for research and education. Immediately, it will buy new equipment.

Pepper Ottaway hugs her father as her mother expresses gratitude for a $5-million donation to Children’s Hospital from the Janhke family on Jan. 29, 2024 in London, Ont.. (Sean Irvine/CTV News London)“You are going to see three ultrasounds rolled into the building as soon as they can be delivered," Syed told CTV News London. "That will allow us to deliver care using state-of-the-art technology.”

While Lyze and Dieter Jahnke were at the event, the business owners kept their words short and declined media interviews.

However, Lyze did briefly tell the crowd the donation is partly designed to encourage those who can give to do so.

She also stressed wealthy families passing on philanthropy to their children.

“Think to improve other people's lives, and if you start with that idea very young, and you live with it. So, when you get older say ‘I can manage this, I can do this,’” she said.

Dr. Alexandra Zorzi, a paediatric oncologist, speaks at London, Ont.'s Children's Hospital following a $5 million donation on Jan. 29, 2024. (Sean Irvine/CTV News London)

The young patients of today showed their appreciation through art and smiles, while parents offered kind words.

“From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you. Because cancer is a very, very, heavy load to bear,” said Melanie Ottaway, whose daughter has battled leukemia.

Zorzi also offered the Jahnkes a hug, as she and staff members applauded new funds and new hope.

“This was an inspiring day to dare to dream,” she said. “That our outcomes could be better. That our patients will have less toxicity and that we will be able to continue to innovate”

London hospitals have been the benefactors of substantial donations in recent months.

The largest, a $20-million gift from the late Archie Verspeeten, also supported cancer care. Top Stories

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