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Patient Story: Robert and Birgit Bateman

Longstanding Salt Spring Island residents Robert and Birgit Bateman are both artists, naturalists and retired high school art teachers. By way of their charity organization, the Bateman Foundation, they aim to engage people with the beauty and excitement of nature through the lens of art. Research shows that spending time in nature has significant health benefits for the mind and body. As part of their daily routine, Robert and Birgit walk two kilometers everyday, rain or shine, taking in the splendour of the West Coast and observing the wildlife thriving all around them.

As donors, they have seen the impact that modern equipment has on care in Vancouver Island hospitals. Recently, this knowledge became all too personal.

In November of 2016, Robert suffered an aneurism on an artery to his liver and was transported by helicopter from Lady Minto Hospital on Salt Spring Island to Victoria General Hospital where he was treated by the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) team. Robert was losing a great deal of blood, and time was of the essence. The ICU team used leading-edge equipment to quickly locate the aneurism and guide the surgery, performed by vascular surgeon Dr. Shung Lee, to put a dam in the artery that had experienced the aneurism. Both Robert and Birgit appreciated the exemplary knowledge and care that Dr. Lee, and the entire team of caregivers, showed while Robert was in the hospital.

Unfortunately, after over a year of good health in March of 2018, Robert began to cough up blood. Knowing the situation was serious, Birgit called 911 and an ambulance transported Robert to the hospital. After being stabilized by Dr. David Butcher at Lady Minto Hospital on Salt Spring Island, Robert was taken to Royal Jubilee Hospital for treatment. Robert appeared to improve and returned home but was subsequently brought back to Royal Jubilee after a haemorrhage. Dr. Lee and general surgeon Dr. Darren Biberdorf performed a 6-hour-long operation to sheath the aneurism to the liver and repair the duodenum wall.

Robert recovered in the hospital for one month and was delighted when he was able to return home in late April. Thanks to the excellent care of the Island Health team, Robert is back at the easel painting his coveted landscapes, and going for daily walks with Birgit again.

“It is important that everyone plays a helpful role in advancing care as we will all need it sooner or later. If every person donated however much they are able to, it would make a huge difference to the equipment and resources available in our hospitals.” Robert Bateman, grateful patient