Indo-Canadian Philanthropist Stephen Sander Donates $2 Million To VGH And UBC

VANCOUVER – Indo-Canadian Philanthropist Stephen Sander and family have made a $2 million donation to improve patient care at the at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) and UBC Hospital.

Patients at UBC Hospital will soon benefit from the latest generation in MRI technology thanks to a $1 million donation from Sander family’s Hollyburn Properties. The current MRI machine will be upgraded to a GE Signa Explorer. Work is currently underway and the upgraded MRI machine is expected to be fully operational in the next few months.

And thanks to Sander family donation of another $1 million to VGH, Jack the Robot is preparing to retire after 10 years and give way to a more advanced machine. A member of the da Vinci Surgical System, Jack has assisted his masters in more than one thousand surgical procedures at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH). While he has served the community well, Jack is becoming obsolete and the time has come for a more advanced robot to take his place.

“Hollyburn Properties is very proud to support residents and families across Vancouver with a $2 million donation towards new medical equipment, which will help provide care to people across all sectors of medicine and have an impact for many people no matter what their illness,” said Sander, founder of Hollyburn Properties as well as a patient at VGH & UBC Hospital.

“We’re focused on the provision of essential services, and healthcare, like housing is important in supporting a vibrant and thriving community. This donation is a way for us to give back to the community that has supported us for over 40 years.”

“We are extremely grateful to Hollyburn Properties and the leadership of Stephen Sander and the Sanders’ family for this extraordinary $1 million gift,” says Barbara Grantham, President and CEO of the VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation. “Like housing, health care is a key component for a healthy and thriving community. This much needed MRI at UBC Hospital will serve our community for years to come.”

UBC’s state-of-the-art MRI machine features advanced software, allowing for faster, more accurate diagnostic scans. As well, the noise level in some scans is reduced by 97.5%. This has been shown to lessen anxiety in claustrophobic patients and patients with dementia.

“This new MRI technology will support more patients through the continuum of care by providing faster and more efficient technology,” says Dr. John Mayo, Head and Medical Director, Department of Medical Imaging, Vancouver Acute, VCH. “It will allow us to see more patients and better understand their conditions through enhanced imaging.”

Vancouver Coastal Health plans to purchase a new robot-assisted surgical system thanks to a $1 million donation from Hollyburn Properties and the Sander family. This updated version of the da Vinci system includes a teaching console—similar to a driving instructor having a second wheel—to help surgeons become more skilled in the use of the technology. The system is comprised of a controller, console, 3D camera with 10X magnification, and a bedside cart with four robotical arms. One arm positions the camera while the others hold surgical instruments that are controlled by the hand and foot movements of the surgeon positioned at the console.

“By replacing Jack with cutting-edge surgical robotic technology, which includes a console for a second surgeon, VCH is positioned to further develop the areas where robotic technology provides value,” says Dr. Marcel Dvorak, Associate Medical Director, VCH. “Surgeons are carefully selecting those patients who are likely to benefit from robot- assisted surgical procedures while continuing to provide other leading surgical technologies.”

Robotic technology is used in a variety of surgeries including radical prostatectomy (removal of the prostate gland and surrounding tissue), cardiovascular bypass surgery (to remove a blocked artery in the heart), and hysterectomy (removal of the uterus and in some cases, the ovaries and fallopian tubes).

“With this minimally invasive surgery, patients are often able to return to their normal activities quicker than if they’ve had open surgery,” says Dr. Peter Black, Senior Research Scientist, Vancouver Prostate Centre. “Patients experience less pain and require less pain medication, and are generally able to recover faster.”


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