Calgary Health Trust

Liz's Story

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How Your Support Helped Liz Wong

“One day in the shower, I was having a hard time standing… I had to kneel and it took me a long time be able to stand up again… then I started losing my speech…. And I was rushed to emergency”.

~ Liz Wong, Calgarian.

Liz as a baby. She had been the picture
of health until she started getting very
odd, confusing and unfamiliar symptoms
at age 15.

Liz was born here in Calgary and she had a healthy and robust life in her first 15 years. 

By the time she was fifteen, Liz had the dreams and aspirations of a high-achieving teenager.  She had wanted to be a marine biologist, she played the piano, she did well in school, played on her school's basketball and football teams and she was even contemplating trying out for the field hockey team…

But that’s when things took a turn for the worst... At first, Liz began noticing some very unfamiliar symptoms: lights appeared dimmer, she had trouble swallowing, she was always tired and suffered from migraines, vertigo and nausea.

The symptoms became more frequent and severe. 

One day she was in the shower, and she was having a hard time standing. She decided to kneel but it took her a long time to get back up -- she knew something was wrong!

Then shortly after she lost her ability to speak! You can imagine how confusing and alarming such a situation would be to a 15 year old, but I can assure you, it was not any easier on her parents. Her parents rushed her to emergency. At the hospital, a CT Scan revealed a mass in her brain - then an MRI revealed more details…

Liz had a blood clot in her brain that was hemorrhaging!

It turned out to be a ‘Cavernous Malformation’ clusters of abnormal, dilated blood vessels in her brain stem; something she was born with.

Luckily for Liz, the Foothills hospital had just received new-state-of-the-art surgical equipment that would ensure she would have a successful surgery and a great chance of survival. 

The new equipment, which had been funded by Calgary Health Trust donors, allowed leading neurosurgeon Dr. Garnette Sutherland to use MRI technology to guide the surgery. 

In previous years, patients were moved back and forth from diagnostic imaging to the surgery room. Now it could be all done at the same time allowing for greater precision and less time under the knife. 


During the nine hour surgery, Liz's parents waited anxiously, praying for positive news.

 And their patience was rewarded. Dr. Sutherland was able to deliver the news that, with the help of the new technology available, he was able to successfully remove Liz’s malformation and blood clot. She survived and avoided further complications due to that state-of-the-art equipment and world-class care.

And today, 16 years after that life-changing experience, Liz and her parents are forever grateful to Calgary Health Trust donors and the staff at the hospital for their efforts. They celebrate every birthday, and anniversary of Liz’s surgery, with immense gratitude.

They know that it was only possible because of wonderful caring people who helped to fund the specialized surgical equipment Liz benefited from.

Please give and help us tell more wonderful stories like this one.