Saundra Anderton makes the “ultimate gift” in gratitude for her lifesaving care

We have partnered with Will Power, a national movement to educate Canadians on the power they have to make a difference through their wills. Today, we highlight Make a Will month by sharing Saundra’s story. Like many of our supporters, Saundra wanted to make a significant gift that would benefit the future of health care in her community. She extended her giving beyond today through a bequest in her will.

One night, Saundra Anderton went to bed and the next morning she couldn’t find the energy to get out.

Over the course of the next couple days, Saundra only left her bed to go to the bathroom, but that alone used all of her energy and she started experiencing shortness of breath.

She had no other symptoms but her condition wasn’t improving so her husband, Jim, called telehealth. The nurse talked to Saundra on the phone and could tell something was wrong. The nurse immediately called an ambulance which rushed Saundra to the Emergency Department at Guelph General Hospital.

Saundra recalls when she arrived at GGH she was still conscious but having difficulty breathing and her oxygen level was dangerously low. She had lost a lot of weight and her health was declining fast. An x-ray of her lungs revealed that she had double pneumonia.

Saundra’s condition continued to decline and she eventually developed acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a life-threatening condition that causes respiratory failure, and she needed to be admitted to the ICU.

Dr. Dean Raso first met Saundra when she was in the Emergency Department, and he continued to check in on her throughout her stay in the Hospital. When she arrived in the ICU, he told her if her breathing didn’t improve soon she would have to be intubated for a ventilator but he first wanted to try a less invasive option: a ventilator that fitted like a mask that forces oxygen into the lungs. Saundra remembers it being very uncomfortable but the mask helped her breathe and helped her recover. She was soon well enough to be moved to the Step Down unit and eventually into a regular patient room where she spent the next few weeks trying to increase her oxygen levels naturally with the help of a respirologist.

After a few more weeks of rehab at home, Saundra started to think about how she could show her gratitude to the Hospital and the caregivers who saved her life.

“All of the staff, the nurses, the respirologists, were all so good to me. I was so impressed that Dr. Raso met me on day one and continued to check in on me. He didn’t wait until I was in the ICU, he was constantly updating his team on my condition.”

Saundra made her first donation in gratitude to the staff who cared for her. She then became very engaged with GGH and was surprised to learn that every piece of equipment used to care for patients at the Hospital must be funded through donations from the community. “Most people don’t know that the Hospital relies on donations. We have to support the General if we want the best equipment close to home. It’s a message that I share with friends all the time.” After Saundra’s husband passed away, she made the “ultimate gift”. She updated her will to include a bequest to The Foundation of Guelph General Hospital that would ensure her support continued after she is gone. “Community is one of the most important things to me. Everybody will need the Hospital at some point, and a bequest in my will is a way for me to make a significant gift that benefits the whole community after I’ve passed. It’s another way for me to say thanks to the staff that saved my life.”

To learn more about how you can make a big impact on the future of patient care at Guelph General, visit our Will Power page, Leave a Gift in Your Will, for free resources and tools, or contact Matt Peltomaki at 519-837-6422 or [email protected].