Thanks to a $1M gift from the Estate of Mr. and Mrs. Len & Joan Leece, the gastroenterology division at Surrey Memorial Hospital will be expanding with a new endoscopic ultrasound device as well as a new advanced gastroenterology fellowship position.

Gastrointestinal cancers affect the digestive tract that starts from the mouth to the anus, including the esophagus, stomach, intestines, bowel and anus, as well as surrounding organs like the pancreas, bile duct and gall bladder. Globally, gastrointestinal cancers account for 1 in 4 cancer cases and 1 in 3 cancer deaths.[1]

Len and Joan LeeceIn Canada, colorectal cancer is the fourth most prevalent cancer in both men and women with 24,100 projected cancer cases in 2023 (3,000 in BC). And it is projected that colorectal cancer will be the second most leading cause of cancer deaths (11 per cent or 9,300) with pancreatic cancer as the third most leading cause of death in Canada (seven per cent or 5,900).[2]

“With the exponential population growth of Surrey and surrounding regions, the need for endoscopic ultrasound has never been greater and is long overdue at Surrey Memorial Hospital,” explains Dr. Henry Wong, gastroenterologist and head of gastrointestinal division at SMH.

“We are routinely sending patients to Vancouver every week, which delays the treatment and care of our patients. But we shouldn’t have to, given that our hospital has the most gastrointestinal specialists in the Fraser Health region. We are grateful for the Surrey Hospitals Foundation’s support in investing in this endoscopic ultrasound technology so that we can also recruit more specialists and expand our care to patients in the region.”

endoscopic ultrasound screenEndoscopic Ultrasound (EUS) provides more detailed imaging of organs and is more precise at detecting tumours and cysts than traditional MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and CT (computerized tomography). EUS is useful in diagnosing and staging various gastrointestinal tract conditions and cancers including in nearby areas such as lungs, pancreas, liver, bile ducts and gallbladder. It also has a therapeutic role in draining complex pancreatic fluid collections especially in sick ICU patients, draining fluids from cysts, or delivering medicines and therapies to a targeted region, such as a malignant tumor.

Surrey Hospitals Foundation is profoundly grateful to the Estate of Mr. and Mrs. Len & Joan Leece for their transformative gift. Creative and hardworking, Leonard and Joan Leece emigrated from England in 1964 and grew to love Vancouver and White Rock. They saved and invested well, and over the years they shared their good fortune by generously supporting many charitable causes. Having received excellent care at Surrey Memorial Hospital, Len and Joan were proud and grateful to have such an outstanding regional hospital in their community, and recognized Surrey Hospitals Foundation with its largest estate gift to date.