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Image of Paddy and Deb
Image of Paddy and Deb.
Patient Care

Chronic Pain Program at St. Paul’s to receive $1 million gift


Gift comes from estate of grateful patient; singles out work of anesthesiologist and pain management specialist Dr. William McDonald

When Mrs. Margaret Carpenter created her estate plans, she stipulated that the Pain Program receive “a substantial portion” of the total gift left for St. Paul’s. The seven figure gift from the Estates of Robert and Margaret Carpenter reflects the appreciation Mrs. Carpenter had for Dr. William McDonald, director of the Pain Program at St. Paul’s until his retirement earlier this year.

Regarded as a pioneer in a highly complex field, Dr. McDonald helped create the only “multidisciplinary” pain program in the province, with three unique pain programs operating at St. Paul’s: one within the Department of Internal Medicine; one under the Department of Anesthesia; and one under Mental Health.

This crossing to different fields of medicine speaks to the complexities, challenges and varied nature of chronic pain management.

The complexities of chronic pain

It is estimated that 20% of British Columbians live with chronic pain. One patient who understands chronic pain all too well is another of Dr. McDonald’s grateful patients, Paddy Aiken, whose injury in a motorcycle accident in 2000 resulted in severe acute pain, which did not go away. It became a chronic condition and she was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS).

To make matters worse, while initially localized to her foot, the part of her body that was most severely injured, Paddy’s CRPS soon became “generalized,” which means that the pain, which was often agonizing, had begun to spread to other parts of her body.

In 2002, when Dr. McDonald and his team had developed a new protocol for intravenous infusions of the painkiller lidocaine, Paddy was their first patient. Receiving infusions every two to three weeks as a test, the protocol proved effective and the use of intravenous lidocaine as developed at St. Paul’s became the main treatment for CRPS throughout BC and western Canada.

Paddy recently ran in the Scotiabank 5k Charity Challenge to raise funds for St. Paul’s. As Paddy humorously recalls it, she and a friend, Deb Jennings, who also has CRPS and, like Paddy, uses a cane, finished “last and second last.”

“By the time Deb and I got to the finish line,” Paddy says with a laugh, “we weren’t even sure where the finish line was. Everything had been packed up and put away!” Fortunately, several race officials were still on duty and Paddy and Deb did cross the finish line—and did raise funds for St. Paul’s.

Planned giving is a great way to give

The forethought of such a gift as made by the Carpenter family, which is known as a planned gift, also provides a special moment for physicians and other caregivers at St. Paul’s, a moment when they may be reminded of the profound impact they can have on the lives of their patients and their patients’ families.

For information on making a planned gift to St. Paul’s, please contact Karen Brown, Director, Estate Giving & Philanthropy Administration at 604-806-8271 or