The organizers: Vanessa and Michael Hyatt
The pitch: Donating equipment to the neonatal intensive care unit at Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital
When Vanessa Hyatt gave birth to identical twin girls this summer, the babies were premature and had to be transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.
Everything went fine, but while they were there Ms. Hyatt and her husband Michael asked the nurses what they could use to make the NICU better. The nurses explained that some babies in the NICU were so small that measuring how much liquid they receive was difficult and the only way to do it was by weighing the babies before and after they received fluid. But the NICU didn’t have enough scales and the ones they had were barely useable.
“So I said, ‘which scale do you need?’ ” recalled Mr. Hyatt, who co-founded of BlueCat Networks Inc. with his brother Richard. The nurses told him and the Hyatts bought six scales for the NICU.
They didn’t stop there.
“I also asked, ‘when the baby is delivered, where’s the warm towel to wrap them in?’ ” Mr. Hyatt said. “They said ‘We don’t have that in this hospital.’ ” The Hyatts purchased two towel-warming machines; one for the maternity ward and one for the NICU.
They also noticed that the NICU had five Medela breast pumps, but mothers needed to have their own pumping kit to connect to the pumps. The kits cost around $90, which some mothers struggled to afford. “We bought a ton of kits and left them there,” Mr. Hyatt said.
The purchases cost about $40,000 in total and the equipment is already in use. “Our idea was; could we leave the NICU much better off than we came to it?” Mr. Hyatt said. “These are material things that have changed lives.”
The St. Michael’s gift was just one of many donations the Hyatts make every year, largely through their family foundation. “Less important is the dollar figure,” Mr. Hyatt said in explaining the couple’s approach to philanthropy. “More important is the idea that we use our entrepreneurial instincts and ask; what would make a profound impact? The key to this one was asking the nurses and getting to exactly what they wanted, because they know.”
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