Celebrating Purple Day with scholarship to honour colleague who died of epilepsy

Click to play video: 'Westmount dental clinic hosts epilepsy awareness event in honour of late employee'
Westmount dental clinic hosts epilepsy awareness event in honour of late employee
Mon, Mar 26: March 26 is International Purple Day in support of epilepsy awareness. As Global's Anne Leclair reports, an orthodontics clinic in Westmount decided to become involved in the movement after a a co-worker died following a seizure last September – Mar 26, 2018

Staff members at a Westmount orthodontic clinic have made it their mission to raise funds and awareness about epilepsy on Purple Day all in an effort to honour a colleague who recently died after suffering from a severe epileptic seizure.

The brain disorder affects up to one per cent of the population, and people who suffer sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP), a fatal complication of the disorder, are mostly young men with uncontrolled seizures.

“Particularly if they sleep alone, they’re at greater risk from dying of a seizure at night,” neurologist Dr. Martin Veilleux said.

That’s exactly what happened to Quinton Ryan on Sept. 2, 2017. The 40-year-old was alone in his home when he had a seizure and was only found the next day.

“About 30 to 35 per cent of epileptics are not fully controlled, meaning they have one to two seizures per year,” Quinton’s neurologist Dr. Veilleux told Global News. “It’s always a big surprise [when they lose their life] and it’s frequently a young person so we feel maybe we haven’t done enough.”
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Quinton Ryan died of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) on Sept. 2, 2017.

Quinton spent the last 17 years of his life working at TGO orthodontics in Westmount. He was the clinic’s photographer, lab technician and IT specialist. He was a valued team member and considered like family to everyone he worked with.

“Quinton was bigger than life,” office manager Rosa Pasquantonio said. “He watched out for us as we watched out for him — he became our brother and we were his sisters.”

Staff members made a point of keeping a close eye on him, making sure he was always taking his medication and never alone.

When Quinton died of SUDEP, his colleagues couldn’t imagine life without him. They decided to take action for a week leading up to March 26, to raise awareness about the often misunderstood brain disorder.

“We’re moving forward and we’re doing this to raise awareness about epilepsy and hope that this doesn’t happen to any other family or colleague,” Dr. Jonathan Werbitt said.

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The clinic has raised over $1,200 and will donate the money to a dentistry scholarship in Quinton Ryan’s name in his home country of Montserrat.

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