By Todd Lewys
About 14 years ago, Winnipeg native Ali Goodspeed was living in Ontario with her husband Jon, planning to start a family.
Having not felt right for some time, Goodspeed saw her doctor, who recommended getting checked out by a gynecologist.
As fate would have it, Goodspeed decided to forego seeing a specialist in Ontario.
Instead, she opted to travel back to her hometown to have noted gynecologist Dr. Garry Krepart — who specialized in treating women with gynecological cancer — examine her.
It was one of the best decisions Goodspeed ever made.
“I was so pleased that he was willing to see me,” she recalls. “He eventually performed surgery on me, removing an ovary, fallopian tube and a cyst the size of a cantaloupe from the region around my uterus.”
Not only did Dr. Krepart’s peerless surgical skills ensure that Goodspeed could still have children, but his calm demeanor was reassuring during a very uncertain time in her life.
“He was kind, had an incredible bedside manner and was so thoughtful,” she says. “He made me feel comfortable and had great empathy. I trusted him and felt that I was in good hands. A goodness just permeated through him.”
Dr. Krepart’s wife, Lynn, says that characterization sums up her late husband perfectly.
“He was totally devoted to his patients,” she says. “He considered every patient he treated to be a wife, mother or daughter, and always treated them with care and compassion.”
The remarkable thing about Dr. Krepart — who was born and raised in Winnipeg — is that his skill was such that he could have practiced wherever he wanted to.
“During his residency, doctors saw his surgical ability and suggested he go to M.D. Anderson in Houston to further refine his skills — but with the promise that he would come back to Winnipeg after he finished,” recalls Lynn. “He did.”
Ali Goodspeed is just one of many patients who benefitted from Dr. Krepart being a man of his word.
“I was so fortunate that he became part of my life,” she says. “He was there for me when I needed him.”
Cliff King, chair of Winnipeg Realtors’ Citizens Hall of Fame Program, says that Dr. Krepart — who passed away in 2015 after a long illness — unassumingly used his world-class skills to save countless lives.
“What strikes you when you read the nomination submission on Dr. Krepart is, how through his area of expertise and such specialized knowledge, he impacted lives in the most profound and life-altering way. Dr. Krepart literally saved lives, and the life-altering surgery he pioneered was accessible to thousands of women in Manitoba and beyond.”
King adds that the gifted doctor — who trained doctors from Canada, the U.S. and many other parts of the world in gynecology — was a humble man.
“Another admirable trait which Winnipeggers would have appreciated was his modest demeanor in not needing the limelight to shine on what he did,” he says. “His primary focus was on his patients, not himself. And his drive to help women stay alive made him a pioneer in his chosen field and a role model for many to look up to.”
Lynn Krepart says that description of her husband is apt.
“He had no airs — he was a simple man who was devoted to his patients. I guess you could say he was a typical Winnipegger.”
Goodspeed — who fittingly gave birth to her first son nine months to the day of her surgery — says she’s glad that Dr. Krepart chose to come back to Winnipeg.
“I was blessed to have three kids after my surgery,” she says. “My first son will actually celebrate his thirteenth birthday on September 19. Dr. Krepart will always hold a special place in my heart. I’m happy to be part of his legacy, and he deserves to be honored for his skill and the wonderful man that he was.”