Larry Wasser (BA 1978 Innis) and his wife, Marla, whose initial donation in 1999 helped launch the Wasser Pain Management Centre, are spearheading an ambitious campaign to raise $75 million for the innovative clinic. The new funds will enable the Wasser Centre to invest in more space, staff and research as it seeks to become a world leader in patient-based pain management, says Larry Wasser. The clinic is already considered to be among the best in North America. “This initiative will move the centre to its next stage of development,” he says.
The Wassers first became involved with Mount Sinai Hospital in 1995, when they read a story in the Toronto Star about a 13-year-old girl who needed surgery to correct a birth defect that had left her jaw fused almost shut. Moved by the young girl’s plight, the Wassers offered to pay for the cost of replacement jaw joints, which weren’t covered by OHIP.
A few years later, the Wassers approached the hospital about making a larger contribution – to a field that didn’t receive adequate funding or support from the public or private sector.At the time, Wasser says neither he nor his wife nor any members of their family had ever experienced chronic pain. But they were motivated by the fact that roughly one in five Canadians suffer from it. “Most of the money goes to things like cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s – things that people are aware of. We wanted to find an area that people wouldn’t normally fund,” he says.
The couple met with Dr. Allan Gordon, who had cofounded the hospital’s craniofacial pain unit, and that sealed the deal.“He is a fantastic individual,” says Wasser. “He’s the kind of person that, if given the chance, will make a huge difference to pain treatment in Canada, and ensure that Mount Sinai Hospital continues to take a leadership role in progressive health care.”