Debbie Reid was born in 1954 in Sydney, Nova Scotia, but grew up in New Brunswick. She graduated from Riverview High School in 1972 and went to Dalhousie University to study Science with the ambition of getting into medical school. Being an intelligent woman, she ascertained, (rightfully so) that, at the time, being accepted to Med School as a female, might be tricky, so she applied as D.H. Reid instead of Debbie. It worked, and she was accepted into Memorial Medical School in Newfoundland. After graduating, she went on to pediatric training in London Ontario. And then it was back to St. Johns’ Newfoundland, where she spent her entire career in pediatric medicine and pediatric critical care, first at The Original Janeway Hospital and then at the New Janeway
Debbie was an original, or at least those of us who knew her best thought she was! She was the big sister, and rarely let any of us forget it. But from her, we learned how to drive a car, power and sail a boat, play a guitar and bake! She was a fabulous cook, especially cheesecakes. Cooking for a dinner party of a couple of dozen was easy for her, and not only did she entertain at her home, she took lots of meals, and food into the staff at the hospital.
And how she loved her work at the hospital. How she loved the kids and their families. And she would go to great lengths for “her kids,” taking in movies, and treats and books – anything to keep up their spirits. She adored them. And she adored her niece and nephew and was always known as ‘the aunt who brought presents.”
Debbie is predeceased by her father Bill, and leaves to mourn, her mom Barbara Reid (nee Lohnes), her two sisters Peggy (Dennis) and Lori (Wayne) and her much beloved niece (Nikki) and nephew (Chris with his wife Bex and infant son Finn). Two aunts and many cousins and their families also survive her. In later years, when she needed extra help, her friend Jo Carroll was there to help her, and Debbie was always grateful.
While living and breathing her work at the hospital, she was intensely private in the rest of her life. If she had been a gambler, she would have been an expert, for she played her cards very close to her chest. She died the way she wanted: privately and on her terms. She gave up chemo when it became apparent that she was sicker with it than without it. And she chose to die at home, in familiar surroundings. The hospital was not for her! She had spent all her adult life in the hospital, usually in the pediatric intensive care unit which she not only established but ran ~~like the captain of a ship. And her “crew” were intensely proud of her and loyal to her. They will miss her and so will the ones who called her family. When ill health became an issue for Debbie, a retirement party was planned, and a plaque was placed in the hospital in honour of her work. It reads:
“In honor of Dr. Debbie Reid
Founder of Modern Pediatric Critical Care
in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
In recognition of a lifetime of dedication.
With heartfelt and sincere thanks
from all those with whom she worked,
particularly the children of this province,
whom she dedicated her life’s work.
We will never forget the amazing contributions of Dr. Debbie!!
Debbie Reid died this week on April 28 in St. John’s Newfoundland. But it’s not the fact that she died that is noteworthy. Rather it is her life that is important.
For because of her, there are children who lived; and families who got to take their kids home. It was all she wanted.