Beyond the penthouse prize: Millions raised by Full House Lottery lead to health-care innovations

Nadine Elkayal would still be waiting for life changing surgery if not for a new operating room at the Lois Hole Hospital for Women funded through donations and the Full House Lottery.

Surgery for Nadine Elkayal was life changing.

Elkayal was in debilitating pain while she waited for surgery to treat her stage 4 endometriosis.

The surgery wait time, initially pegged at more than a year-and-a-half, was reduced to five months.

“I would still be in pain sitting at home, and I wouldn’t be in front of you right now,” said Elkayal.

That reduced wait time was made possible by the extra operating suite at the Lois Hole Hospital for Women, which itself was a result of fundraising by the Full House Lottery and the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation.

“I can be here for my children more, I can do things with them,” added Elkayal.

Elkayal’s sped-up surgery is one of the many health-care benefits resulting from the Full House Lottery, which is back for its 30th year.

WATCH: Lois Hole Hospital for Women opens new operating room (AHS)

The funds raised by the lottery provide innovation in health care at Edmonton’s two biggest hospitals: the Royal Alexandra and the University of Alberta Hospitals.

For those wishing to participate, the prizes are tantalizing: luxury dream homes, a downtown penthouse, $100,000 in home renovations, luxury vehicles or vacations.

A $2.4 million luxury home, one of the prizes from the Full House Lottery 2023. (Credit: CityNews/Carly Robinson)

“The funds that are raised through Full House Lottery, that provides a lot of innovations,” said Sharlene Rutherford, the president and CEO of the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation.

The lottery continues to see strong support through the pandemic.

“I think the last couple of years, people can better understood the pressures that are in the health system, and how hard-working our health-care providers are and certainly our front-line health-care providers,” said Rutherford.

“For all of us, we see how innovation is driven forward through foundation.”

Dr. Tom Jeerakathil, a stroke neurologist, says funding innovation is challenging.

“It takes a lot of partners, and is expensive and there is risk involved,” he said. “The foundations really take on this risk upfront, and it lets clinicians actually prove concept, so someday it can become part of the system.”

WATCH: Canada’s first stroke ambulance (AHS)

Jeerakathil says Canada’s only stroke ambulance is a perfect example. The ambulance brings a CT scan and stroke treatment to patients in rural areas around Edmonton faster, when minutes count.

In the last five years, it’s gone from a pilot project to a proven concept, now popping up elsewhere in the world.

“You can save over 100 million brain cells,” said Jeerakathil. “That can make the difference between somebody going to a nursing home, or walking out of the hospital days later.”

In the last 30 years, the Full House Lottery has raised more than $100 million. The “earlybird” deadline to purchase tickets is April 27.

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