A Lasting Impact: Darby’s Story

Darby Hamilton was minutes from death when she arrived at Royal Columbian. But she survived, thanks to equipment purchased with the assistance of legacy donors, who continue to have a big impact on patient care today through gifts in their Will.

Past donors who chose to remember Royal Columbian Hospital with a gift in their Will are still having a big impact on patient care today.

Legacy gifts, large or small, are incredibly valuable to Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation. We rely on them to support our work and the equipment and technology that make life-saving care at Royal Columbian Hospital possible. They are vital to ensuring the Foundation can continue to meet the future needs of our hospital and its patients. Patients like Darby Hamilton.

Darby had learned to live with the headaches that had plagued her for the past couple of years. But this time was unlike anything she had ever felt before. The pain left the 26-year-old Mission resident screaming in agony. She would eventually be transported to Royal Columbian Hospital where she soon slipped into a coma. According to her neurosurgeon, Darby was minutes away from death.

“It was on the left side of my head, just an agonizing pain,” recalls Darby. “It was incomparable to a normal headache.”

Unbeknownst to her, Darby had a colloid cyst, a benign tumour that was located right in the geographic centre of her brain. It was blocking the regular flow of cerebrospinal fluid, a condition called hydrocephalus, causing immense pressure in her head.

“The day that Darby presented, she came closer to death than anyone that I have ever looked after,” says neurosurgeon Dr. Michael Nikolakis.

Upon arrival, both of Darby’s pupils dilated and no longer reacted to light. “To have both pupils dilated and non-reactive in a patient that is comatose usually indicates they are well on their way to brain death,” says Dr. Nikolakis.

Darby was rushed into the operating room for an emergency procedure to ease the pressure in her head. Dr. Nikolakis inserted two catheters to drain the fluid. Darby was stabilized.

But the medical team still had to remove the tumour from its very difficult and dangerous location. To give Darby her best chance at a full recovery, Royal Columbian Hospital ordered a new piece of equipment that had never been used before in its facilities.

The NICO BrainPath allowed Dr. Nikolakis to slide a microcatheter right next to the tumour and gradually cut it off in pieces. The operation went smoothly.

“Every single nurse that I dealt with was so compassionate, and they clearly love what they do,” says Darby. “The doctors, they are just wonderful. Dr. Nikolakis saved my life. I just love this hospital.”

None of our legacy gift donors knew Darby. But they knew their gift would support the advanced equipment and technology our hospital needs to save the lives of patients like her. Those donors are gone, but their compassion and care for the health of our community lives on.

Interested in making a big impact but unsure if a gift in your Will is right for you?

To find out how you can leave a gift in your Will with security and peace of mind, join us for our special Strategic Philanthropy Ask Me Anything virtual session on March 10th. Experts Rose Shawlee and Rich Widdifield will be on hand to answer your specific legal, financial, and philanthropic questions.