Directing British Columbia’s kidney transplant program for 19 years might seem an unexpected destiny for a skinny kid from small town Alberta, but Dr Ted Reeve’s trajectory had a logical—albeit idiosyncratic—path that made such an outcome all but inevitable.
Born in Stettler, Alberta, to an Anglican priest and his schoolteacher wife, Ted grew up in Calgary before attending Bishop’s University, as his parents had before him. While there, Ted found his interests in theatre, music, philosophy, and Christianity repeatedly drawing him into the circle of Phyllis Parham, the young woman who became his wife. Married in 1958, Ted and Phyllis continued to debate these themes, then with their five children and, still later, seven grandchildren. Characterizing their relationship, Phyllis said they’d been discussing Sartre for 60 years.
But Bishop’s University held further attractions for Ted. It was there that he began in earnest the scientific career that would bring him to organ transplantation’s leading edge. Following his bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics, Ted studied medicine at McGill University before he and his young family moved west for a residency at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver and a postdoctoral fellowship at UCLA.
The science thrilled him, but so did the opportunity and responsibility of treating acutely ill patients, regardless of their background. It was a matter of pride for Ted that when he and his colleagues brought transplantation to British Columbia they didn’t just help pioneer this therapy, they did so in an environment where it was available to unemployed cafeteria cooks and self-made millionaires equally. This emphasis on quality of life led him to branch out from nephrology and transplantation to related research in immunology, hematology, and genetics, and to frequent involvement in the organizations and committees that governed and lobbied for medical practitioners, like Doctors of BC.
After several decades as a physician, Ted sought a new career, feeling that administrative and philosophical changes had moved medicine and academia away from his ideals. He and Phyllis acquired Page’s Resort & Marina on Gabriola Island where he became as dedicated to the island community as he had been to his medical practice. Together, Ted and Phyllis nurtured their business and supported the arts, opening their home for concerts, book launches, and art exhibitions.
In his 60s, Ted was diagnosed with hepatitis C, likely picked up during his medical career. As his battle with the disease stiffened he was fortunate to have had the sympathetic care of Dr Francois Bosman. Ted’s suffering, however, did not diminish his compassion; rather than lamenting that new treatments arrived too late for him, he worried that their exorbitant pricing limited their accessibility.
Ted is survived by Phyllis and their children: Dorothy (Jacques), Charles (Amy), Gloria (Ken), Elizabeth, and Henry (Tiffani). His beloved family also includes grandchildren Christopher, Amandine, Nicolas, Stephanie, Michelle, Lioba, and Charlie. His sister Helen, brother Norman, and parents Charles and Dorothy predeceased him. He was blessed with numerous cherished friends who, along with his wife and family, miss him dearly.
—Charles Reeve, Jr., PhD
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Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL, Marion DW, Palmer AM, Schiding JK, et al. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:284-7.
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