Overlooking Mountain

Resilient student awarded David Podmore Graduate Studentship by BC Children’s Hospital Foundation

As an infant, Concert Board Chair and Co-Founder David Podmore, OBC, was something of a regular at Vancouver General Hospital, suffering from Pyloric stenosis, an uncommon condition in infants that blocks food from entering the small intestine. While he may not personally remember this time spent in hospital, today he looks back with appreciation for the critical health care he received as a young child.

“I was fortunate to receive this care. Growing up happy and healthy is an experience all children should have. I felt that I needed to give something back,” says Podmore. “Today I have four children and while we’ve been lucky to not need it, it’s important for families to know that BC Children’s Hospital is always there.”

For decades, Podmore has championed children’s health and well-being through his work with the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation (BCCHF) and support of the BC Children’s Hospital. This past year, the BCCHF Board of Directors established a one-time award to recognize Podmore’s longstanding service to the Foundation and the children of British Columbia. “We are incredibly proud to honour David’s lifelong commitment to children’s health through the establishment of the David Podmore Graduate Studentship by the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation Board of Directors,” says Malcolm Berry, BCCHF President and CEO. 

“The award will support the research of a graduate student who embodies a tenacious, resilient and passionate spirit and who demonstrates a commitment to advancing the health of children and families. I cannot think of a more fitting way to honour David’s tremendous gift of time, dedication and vision to improving child health, than through enabling the next generation of talent to do so.”

The winner of the award, Kwestan Safari, has faced and overcome many challenges. Kwestan’s parents fled Iraq to escape ethnic cleansing, and Kwestan was born in an Iraqi refugee camp. The selflessness of the volunteer doctors working in the refugee camp deeply affected her, as did her mother's teachings around finding meaning from hardship. After her family emigrated to Canada, she decided to study molecular biology and biochemistry.

However, she soon began suffering from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) while a student, and was only able to overcome the physical, personal and social challenges she faced by relying on her mother's teachings. Today she is a master of science student working on a research team investigating the first-ever potential therapy for intestinal fibrosis.

Kwestan's resilience in overcoming adversity, both personal and professional, speaks to the impact of her journey. “We have a responsibility to derive purpose from the hardships we face,” said Safari. “I [feel] very humbled, very grateful, very blessed [by this honour].”