Classic 107 - Winnipeg's classical and jazz radio station.

Thanks to a $2-million donation, Manitoba children affected by epilepsy no longer have to travel out of province for specialized treatments and surgeries.

The Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba (CHFM) unveiled the first results of the Pediatric Epilepsy Monitoring Unit at the Children’s Hospital-HSC Winnipeg today.

Mike Schlater and his wife Lilibeth made the hefty donation on May 9, 2017.

Schlater is the Chief Operating Officer of Domino’s Pizza Canada and said this was a cause he and his wife wanted to donate to after he experienced a number of seizures.

He had surgery to treat them just less than six years ago.  

“Only 15 per cent of the people who need this surgery ever qualify to get it,” Schlater said. “I’m thrilled with what the hospital has done here. People who don’t have seizures don’t realize how much better your life is once you get rid of them.”

12-year-old Morgan Walker from Brandon, Manitoba joined Schlater and representatives from the CHFM and talked about his experience with epilepsy.  

Morgan said before he had specialized surgery in October of last year, he had upwards of eight seizures per day.

“The paramedics and nurses in Brandon knew me by name, that’s how much they saw me,” Walker said. “But now because of my epilepsy team, I’ve only had three small seizures since then.”

Morgan worked with a team of doctors led by Dr. Dmitre Sereletis and Dr. Colin Kazina, who now have the resources necessary to treat kids locally.

“This donation unlocks the capital and the infrastructure for us to make sure kids are getting the right surgery and treatments,” Kazina said. “It’s allowing them to get the care they need at home so they can still be around their families.”

Sereletis says for epileptic kids to obtain these services before, they’d have to travel to cities like Calgary, Vancouver, London and Toronto.

Given there are 19,000 patients with epilepsy in the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority catchment alone – and likely more in other provinces – kids would often be put on long wait lists.

“There’s a cost for families to travel and stay out of province and many risks in having to wait for this treatment,” Sereletis said. “There’s a risk of falling, drowning and other accidents related to seizures that could lead to unexpected death.”

“Now we can treat them properly and this summer we’re hoping to begin more advanced surgical procedures where we can implant electrodes into the brain and map these seizures where they start and spread and then we can pursue targeted and detailed plans.”

Sereletis and Kazina say they hope the Unit can extend its reach to adults in the future.

In the past few months, the Pediatric Epilepsy Surgery Program has treated 12 kids in Manitoba who otherwise would have required out of province care, according to the CHFM.

They expect to see at least 100 more patients in 2018.