Taking pride in protecting others

Taking pride in protecting others

Illuminate newsletter index page, June 2020
June 2020

Heather White
Heather White's personal experience with polio led her
to become a supporter of medical research.

Heather White has just celebrated her 80th birthday.

A retired teacher and school principal, she lives a full life enjoying many interests including time with friends, tending to her beautiful garden and maintaining regular exercise to keep fit.

A challenging childhood

It hasn’t always been that way. In the early 1950s at age 13, Heather contracted polio – a dreaded and debilitating disease with no cure.

Heather spent four months in the Fairfield Infectious Diseases hospital, and a further two months at Lady Duggen House where her left leg was fitted with a full-length calliper.

Finally, two challenging years later, Heather was able to return to wearing “normal” shoes. She attended the Melbourne Teachers’ College and graduated as a primary school teacher in 1958.

It wasn’t until 1956 that polio vaccinations became available – some three years after Heather was struck with the disease.

Heather says “I always felt rather cheated in that I just missed out on a vaccination which would have prevented me catching this terrible, life-changing disease. This awareness underpins my very strong support for vaccinations. My life would have been very different had I not been disabled by polio”.

“I am always so proud when I hear of the wonderful work being achieved.”

Because of her interest in vaccines, Heather became aware of the research being done at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute.

“So when I felt I was able to donate some money to support medical research, the Institute was an ideal choice for me,” she said.

Making a difference

While reading the Illuminate newsletter a few years ago, Heather noticed an article about a man who had made a bequest.

“Although not a huge amount of money, I saw that his gift had been able to support many research projects at the Institute.”

“I realised what a difference I could make if I named the Institute as the major beneficiary of my estate. Since making this decision, I really feel a
part of the Institute and I am always so proud when I hear of the wonderful work being achieved.”

More information

If you would like to support the Institute, contact 03 9345 2403 or fundraising@wehi.edu.au

Super Content: 
Image of virus cells

Our researchers are working towards better approaches to diagnose, treat and prevent the spread of coronaviruses, both to address the current COVID-19 global outbreak as well as in preparedness for likely future coronaviral disease outbreaks.