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Winifred's lasting legacy

Saturday 09 January 2021

As a close friend and loved one of Winifred Allen, Beryl Quayle takes comfort from knowing Winifred's gift in her will to the PA Research Foundation went to the research of PA Hospital (PAH) kidney specialist Professor David Johnson.

Professor Johnson and his team were awarded the Winifred Merle Allen Memorial Award at the 2020 PA Research Foundation Research Awards for their project entitled Towards improving outcomes that matter to people on Haemodialysis. Professor Johnson also treated Beryl's late husband Michael when he was a renal patient at the PAH.

Winifred had her own connection with the PA through volunteering in the Red Cross tea rooms for many years.

Winifred and Michael

Michael first became seriously ill in 2004 when he was diagnosed with diabetes. Soon his liver markers became bad enough to warrant admission to the PAH for a liver biopsy. Subsequently he was put on the transplant list.

Thankfully for Michael his liver condition improved, but as an insulin-dependent diabetic the long term side effects took their toll on his heart and kidneys. He eventually came under the care of Professor Johnson.

Beryl said at one stage Mike's health had deteriorated so much that he was told he had only a week to live. Mike beat that diagnosis, bravely fighting on for 15 years, a time given to the couple's life together. Beryl gives much of the credit to the care of the PAH.

"They gave him a week to live, and he had 15 years, so we're very grateful; the treatment he had at the PA was just marvellous," she said.

Beryl said her late husband and Winifred would be smiling down with the knowledge that Winifred's gift went to the work of Professor Johnson, as Michael developed a bond with the specialist. Michael and Winfred were also very close.

"That the award went to Professor Johnson was great because he always so good with Mike," she said.

"It didn't matter who the patient was to Professor Johnson and though Mike didn't always see Professor Johnson, if we were sitting in the waiting room for our clinic appointment, he'd always say hello and have a bit of a chat.

"Mike in some ways was a bit different to other patients because he shared some interests with Professor Johnson from his background as a statistician.

"In Mike's role as an academic he did a lot of data analysis so when he was first diagnosed with the liver disease in 2005 and went on the transplant list, he and Professor Darryl Crawford spent time chatting about the statistical analysis of organ donation as well as Mike's treatment.

"Then with Professor Johnson, there were chats about the theoretical approach to research including the research projects and clinical trials that Mike participated in as a patient."

Beryl said Winifred, who lived a very full life which included working for the Department of Primary Industries, playing piano, gardening, volunteering, and much more before passing at age 96, was a strong supporter of numerous charities but was certain that her final gifts would be in the field of health and medical research.

"Win really wanted her legacy to go towards medical research as her Father died of cancer and her Mother of heart disease," she said.

"She was always interested in any medical issues and topics. She always wanted to know the details of Mike's illness and what medications he was on. She did work as a dental assistant early in her career, so she always had an interest in teeth as well as any medical topics."

Beryl said she appreciated the fact that the PA Research Foundation was able to connect Winifred's generosity to a cause that was so close to home.

"Life's full of little circles. One of Mike's nieces has been diagnosed with auto immune diseases like Mike had. Down the track she could potentially be a kidney patient (not necessarily with the PAH). However, the research done at the PA may very well benefit her," Beryl said.

"It doesn't have to be family, the fact that anybody benefits from the bequest Win gave to the PA is amazing because they do such marvellous work there."

For more information on the work of the PA Research Foundation and the research and patient support initiatives we fund at the PA Hospital head to our website.