A Patient Who Changed the Face of Care at St. Michael's

Remember the name Michael Locke. He was a husband and a father to his family. And he was a patient and friend to St. Michael’s. Michael passed away last year but his memory lives on in the impact he made at St. Michael’s and in his community at large.

Six years ago, Michael was overcome by severe shortness of breath and his doctors couldn’t understand what was causing it. In trying to figure out the root cause they believed his liver was also failing and that Michael had only three months to live.

Then he came to St. Mike’s. Dr. Samir Gupta, who specializes in a rare lung disease called hepatopulmonary syndrome (HPS), took a personal interest in getting to the bottom of Michael’s illness. Dr. Gupta looked at all the test results, did a comprehensive family history and, like a medical Sherlock Holmes, figured out that he in fact had a combination of rare diseases, and most importantly, HPS. Because conditions like HPS are rare, little is known about them even though they can be fatal. To cure Michael’s lung problems, Dr. Gupta realized he needed a liver transplant.

Michael Locke got a new lease on life with a liver transplant from his son Austin. Dr. Gupta recalls, "We don’t understand the connection or why it works, but if you replace one organ, the other repairs itself."

Michael was willing to take risks to find cures...he truly changed the focus of our clinic for the better. We miss him dearly. — Dr. Samir Gupta, Associate Scientist, Keenan Research Centre for Biomedical Science at St. Michael's

Michael felt so passionate about the incredible care he received that he began to fundraise actively among his circle of friends to support research into rare lung diseases at St. Michael’s Hospital. He was committed and driven to ensure Dr. Gupta and his team at St. Michael’s not only have the resources to help others faced with rare respiratory disorders, but also to pursue novel research avenues.

Michael’s efforts culminated in the RARE Event in 2011 which raised over $100,000 net for this vitally important cause. Beyond just fundraising for rare lung diseases, Michael took an active interest in shaping the future direction of research in the field. "Michael was willing to take risks to find cures," says Dr. Gupta, "he truly changed the focus of our clinic for the better. We miss him dearly."

Support your caregiver or the Rare Lung Disease clinic by making a donation today.