Donations of over $6,000 made in memory of Antonio Tassone enabled the purchase of two new Airvo™2 Humidification Systems for patients with lung disease, including the pulmonary fibrosis with which Antonio was diagnosed. Proudly celebrating this donation are Antonio’s grandchildren – from L to R – Adam Tassone, Ava Peterson, Maia Peterson, Noah Peterson, Andrew Tassone, Christina Tassone and Kyra Tassone. (Missing are: Anthony Tassone, Madilyn Tassone, Thomas Tassone, and Oliva Farrow). They are accompanied by Antonio’s loving wife, Raffaela (2nd from left), along with Dr. Luks (2nd from right) who cared wonderfully for Antonio, and Michele Miller (left), Manager of Cardio Respiratory Services, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.
By Heather Vita - March 30, 2019
Antonio Tassone was a man who lived life simply, but who did not have a simple life.
Born in Italy, the sixth child of ten, he grew up in the depression and, tragically, lost his father when he was only 9. He worked on the family farm and in the forests until joining the Italian army. In 1959, he lovingly married Raffaela, his sweetheart. He later immigrated to Canada in search of employment and a better life for his growing family.
Throughout his life, Antonio worked hard to provide for his five children – Bruno, Rosarina, Giuseppe (Pino), Antonio (Tony) and Sabrina.
“He was such a good person, full of love,” recalled Sabrina, of her father. “He was a kind, hard-working, respectful, empathetic and a humble man, full of faith; he had a positive impact on so many people.”
Sadly, Antonio passed away on November 2018 after being diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis in March 2017. Sabrina said, “It was a sad diagnosis that caused many changes in his life. However, he was determined and continued to go for his daily walks, garden, make wine and tomato preserve, and tried to maintain his normal lifestyle as much as he could. We all tried to make this possible for him as well. No matter how much he suffered, he never let on and remained positive. He fought for his family and left behind a beautiful legacy - his wonderful grandchildren who will forever adore him.”
Adding to his legacy is a gift to the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation, thanks to donations that were collected in his memory. “After our Dad passed away, our family discussed how we could honour both him and the incredible care that he received at the Health Sciences Centre, especially during his final days,” said Sabrina. “We felt very strongly about providing others with the equipment that helped our father so much and we asked for people to donate in his memory to an Airvo™2 Humidification System.”
Thanks to over $6,000 that was donated in memory of Antonio, two new Airvo™2 Humidification Systems are now on-site at the Health Sciences Centre and available to patients. “The pulmonary fibrosis made it very difficult for our father to breathe, speak, drink and eat,” said Sabrina, “and prior to getting this system, he was on high flow oxygen from both a mask and a nasal cannula. Unfortunately, this made his mouth very dry and he was extremely uncomfortable. We would put water on a sponge to hydrate his mouth every 10-15 minutes, followed by a medicated mouth spray and lip balm.”
“Our cousins, Bruno Tassone, Respiratory Therapist, and Mary Austin, Registered Nurse, suggested that our Dad would benefit from a high-flow humidification oxygen system, if there was one available. Our father was fortunate to use this machine during his last week. This allowed for a better quality of life. With this system, he only had to wear a nasal cannula which provided humidity. He was much more comfortable and could speak with ease. This allowed him to pray with his family and friends, which was very important to him. Additionally he received so many visitors and he could easily talk and laugh with them. He even had a few sips of the wine that he’d made earlier in the year, and enjoyed an espresso every morning” laughed Sabrina.
“On behalf of our family, we’d like to express our sincere gratitude for the care our father received; the staff on 2B and the Respiratory Therapists were compassionate, patient and accommodating,” continued Sabrina. “We especially need to recognize Dr. Luks. She was good to our father and to our family. He adored her and always told her she was a sweetheart. She provided all of us with support during his illness, while in palliative care, and afterward - ensuring that we understood the disease and helped us to cope with his death. Also, thank you to Michele Miller, Manager of Cardio Respiratory Services, for helping us access the machine for our father and for her efforts in trying to purchase more for the hospital.”
In March 2019, Antonio’s family gathered back at the Health Sciences Centre to view the two new Airvo™2 Systems, now on site and to celebrate how they will give much comfort to others with a respiratory illness.
Dr. Luks explained, “High flow nasal oxygen, such as delivered by the Airvo™2, has many advantages over other conventional high oxygen content delivery systems like face masks. Airvo™2 provides a higher flow rate, and therefore higher and more reliable fraction of inspired oxygen (FiO2). For patients, the system is much more comfortable and enables talking, and eating while wearing the device. Maintaining the ability to eat and communicate in the midst of critical illness empowers and comforts patients. The humidification also reduces drying. For patients with pulmonary fibrosis in particular, high concentrations of oxygen are often needed for prolonged periods of time. With this donation, we are now able to provide access to this device on the in-patient units, which will dramatically improve the clinical experience of patients such as Mr. Tassone.”
“We are extremely grateful and overwhelmed to everyone who made a donation in our father’s memory,” said Sabrina. “This was a very emotional day, yet a happy one knowing that the addition of the new machines will help others.”
Donations in memory of a loved one are always graciously accepted at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation and are a meaningful way to honour the life of a loved one. Donations in support of any area of care at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre are a fitting tribute and a lasting legacy. To learn more about Memorial Giving, please contact (807) 345-4673 or visit our website at healthsciencesfoundation.ca.