Grateful transplant recipient leaves a legacy gift

Allan and Margaret Ingram

“Change the name. TGH is a Totally Great Hospital.”

That’s what Allan Ingram thinks about Toronto General Hospital (TGH) after his successful liver transplant in 2017.

Due to liver failure as a result of overexposure to chemicals, Allan was admitted to the Soham & Shaila Ajmera Family Transplant Centre at TGH in November of 2013. Unfortunately, that didn’t mean there was a donor liver available to him.

“People have to understand, it’s not like a normal wait where you go on a list, you see people go, you move up. It doesn’t work that way, because everything is governed by the MELD score.”

MELD (Model for End-Stage Liver Disease) is a scoring system used to assess patients for the severity of chronic liver disease. Allan’s score was not high enough for transplant to be considered a real possibility, and by 2017, Allan and his wife Margaret were losing hope. They knew age 70 was the cut-off, and Allan was turning 69 with his health rapidly deteriorating.

Allan was unable to drive and Margaret was uncomfortable driving downtown, so they took taxis from their home in Burlington to his regular ultrasound appointments at TGH. After one such appointment, they received a call from his doctor. Allan had a lesion on his liver which bumped up his MELD score.

At 11 p.m. on June 4, 2017, they got the call.

“The phone rang and I can’t remember the exact words, and essentially it was ‘This is Toronto General. We think we have a liver match for you. Can you get here as quickly as you can?’ We got there as quickly as we could,” says Allan.

There were delays due to the operating room schedule and unforeseen circumstances which had both Allan and Margaret worried that the procedure might be cancelled. But at 6 p.m. the following day, Allan went into surgery to receive his new liver.

“I could not say one negative word about Toronto General Hospital, from my experience through the transplant and my experience before and after,” says Allan.

Allan and Margaret were so grateful for the care they received that they decided their ongoing donation to Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation (TGWHF) was not enough. They wanted to contribute to the hospital through a planned estate gift.

While they usually give smaller amounts to various charitable organizations, they wanted their gift to make a larger impact.

“As Allan said, Toronto General gave us our life back,” says Margaret. “We decided we would like to do something down the road to help with the tremendous research that is going on at University Health Network.”

Allan and Margaret worked with TGWHF to find the best way to change their existing wills to leave a percentage of their estate to TGH.

After consulting a lawyer, their wills were easily rewritten to include TGWHF as a beneficiary.

Only a year after the surgery, the couple went on a river cruise in France to celebrate their wedding anniversary, something they hadn’t been able to do in a long time.

Allan is grateful for the gift he has been given.

“You should perhaps change the name of the hospital. I would allow you to leave the initial TGH, but change it to Totally Great Hospital. Because without what was done to me there, I would not be alive today. It’s as simple as that.”