Building a lasting legacy, remembering Erin Lee Palmer

During the month of January, we’d like to thank and spotlight exceptional donors in an initiative called Thank-you-ary. We are genuinely moved and incredibly grateful to donors like Donna Palmer, who chose to create an endowment gift in memory of her daughter, Erin Palmer.

Donna Palmer cherishes the memory of her daughter, Erin, as a kind and gentle soul – generous, quiet and conscientious.

“I feel badly that her life was cut short, she was only 52 and that’s why I want to honour her and have her name remembered with this gift,” Donna said.

Donna generously donated an endowment gift of $100,000 to Calgary Health Foundation, designated for educational initiatives at the Neuroimmunology Clinic at South Health Campus. Her hope is that this endowment empowers the staff to deepen their understanding of autoimmune conditions, fostering better connections with patients and enhancing their knowledge of rare medical diseases.  

“I wanted something where my daughter’s name would be kept alive and she would be remembered in some way over the years.”

Erin was living in Yellowknife, working for the Northwest Territories Geological Survey when she unexpectedly collapsed at work and had to be medevacked out of the Northwest Territories to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton. She was very ill and eventually was diagnosed with autoimmune encephalitis. Her temperature went as low as 30° Celsius and she constantly needed to be heated up to maintain her temperature.

After five months in the hospital, Erin was able to move to Lethbridge to be with her family. Returning to Yellowknife was not recommended as they didn’t have the medical facilities required to help her. Erin and her family looked for a specialist closer than Edmonton for her to go to. Erin was referred to the Neuroimmunology Clinic at South Health Campus and was under the care of Dr. Ronak Kapadia.

“Dr. Kapadia took care of her, and it was so reassuring to all of us that he understood her condition.”

As Erin’s condition was extremely rare, her family looked at having her seen at the Mayo Clinic, but they had to cancel appointments when Erin had some setbacks. Under the care of Dr. Kapadia, Donna was reassured that there wasn’t a need to go to the Mayo Clinic and that he was able to consult with them and send test results to review if needed.

“Dr. Kapadia was excellent, the office staff were very good as well. Whenever she needed something, they would help her out with it.”

Unfortunately, the medical team was never able to identify the antibody that caused Erin’s autoimmune encephalitis and she eventually succumbed to the illness.

“I want Erin’s name to be remembered through this endowment fund. If her condition could lead to other people being able to be treated because they know more about it, that would be a wonderful legacy.”

Donna wants her daughter to be remembered for her quick sense of humour, kind, and gentle spirit.

“She was sweet, fun-loving, witty, and was always up for new adventures. She was a creative, beautiful woman. She had so many struggles in her life and she did so well with all of them. Quite simply, she was an amazing woman and I couldn’t have asked for a better daughter.”

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