Supporters of a new children's hospital in Saskatchewan were gushing with appreciation Friday as a private donor presented them with a cheque for $1 million to go toward equipping the long sought-after facility.
John and Sonya Remai used the familiar oversized cardboard cheque to present their donation, which will have a major impact on the building of the hospital, according to Brynn Boback-Lane, the CEO of the Children's Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan.
"The … [foundation] is truly honoured to receive this generous gift," Boback-Lane told CBC News on Friday.
"The grass roots, individual donations … [are] absolutely amazing," Boback-Lane added. "It's humbling and shows the spirit of Saskatchewan people."
The donors said they hoped to spur others to do the same.
"We also hope that our gift will be a true inspiration to other people in this province to open their hearts and wallets," Sonya Remai said during the presentation.
Finding support — and funds — for a dedicated children's hospital in the province has been the preoccupation of a core group of people, spearheaded by the foundation, for several years.
The provincial government in March gave the go-ahead to release $200 million for the Saskatoon facility, which is to open in 2013. An additional $20 million to $25 million is estimated to be needed for equipment.
Much of the equipment used in the care and treatment of children is highly specialized and different from that used in general hospitals.
Riley Mackintosh, 11, who underwent treatment for a blood disorder at a general hospital two years ago, said there is definite value to having a facility dedicated to children's health care needs.
"When I was in the University Hospital, I had, like, adult equipment on me," said Mackintosh, who was on hand Friday for the presentation of the cheque.
Others in the province shared similar experiences with the CBC Radio program Blue Sky.
"The difference between a children's hospital and the University Hospital are immense," Matt Deutscher said in an email sent to the program.
Last summer, Deutscher's late son, who was two at the time, needed urgent care while the family was vacationing. He was treated at a children's hospital in Nova Scotia as well as at home in Saskatoon.
"Most importantly, the doctors and nurses [at the children's hospital] were experts in childhood diseases, which are completely different than adult illnesses," Deutscher said. "They knew what was happening, how to diagnose and what to do."
Some basic procedures were handled very differently in the two settings, he said.
"For example, in Saskatoon, the nurses needed 5, 6 attempts to put an IV in our boy the night before he died — needless torture that could have been avoided if they had … expertise in handling children's cases," Deutscher said.
Cassandra Grisdale, 16, from Melfort, Sask., relayed her own experiences to CBC while returning from treatment in Alberta for cystic fibrosis.
"My dad and I are actually on our way back from Edmonton because we had to go out there to get specialized treatment and different tests done that Saskatoon and Regina don't have the capacity to do," Grisdale said. "I think it's just great that there are people donating ... because I think that people shouldn't have to travel out of province with their sick child to get health care."
Officials from the Saskatoon Health Region said on Friday that they expected to release more details about the new hospital in six weeks.
Bette Boechler, director of maternal and children's services with the Saskatoon Health Region, told CBC News they are looking to build a facility with 100 beds.
"We're not at the design phase yet," Boechler added. "We have our functional program that dictates the big chunks and the number of beds in the centre, but we're absolutely not at the detailed design phase."