Story Posted: 2023-11-06

Cross-country connection: Danny and Marc Minogue bring teamwork and philanthropy from Montreal to Saskatoon

From the Spirit Newsletter: The voice of St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation.

Danny Minogue first found his passion for philanthropy through his involvement in the ski racer community — he’s a past chairman of Alpine Ski Canada and a former ski racer, on the national team in the ’70s. 

“A lot of people volunteered their time to help, whether it was on the ski hill, organizing the races, or even having us bunk at their homes,” he says. 

It was during those years that Danny learned more about fundraising, and the connections that are important to building a community of supporters. It was those same lessons that underpinned his family’s support in bringing the da Vinci surgical robot to Saskatoon. Danny is the founder of Minogue Medical, a family business based out of Montreal. He founded the company in 1986 with his wife Elyce Minogue, and runs the business today alongside his son Marc, who is Vice President.

The journey to bring robotic-assisted surgery to Saskatchewan began over four years ago, when Dr. Varun Bathini, now the Provincial Lead of Surgical Robotics and Assistant Professor with the Department of Surgery at University of Saskatchewan, arranged for Marc to present the da Vinci Surgical Robot to a multi-specialty group of surgeons in Saskatoon. 

At this presentation, Marc and Danny saw the vision of leaders like Dr. Ivar Mendez (then Head of Surgery for Saskatchewan), Dr. Bathini, and Dr. Peter Spafford, whose professionalism and innovative perspective laid a path of success for a provincial Surgical Robotics Program. They also witnessed community philanthropy in action; a patient and friend of Dr. Spafford, Merlis Belsher, was riveted by the project and the potential that it held for serving patients in the province.

The Merlis Belsher Family provided the phenomenal keystone donation for the project through St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation — but further funding was needed. Inspired by the leadership of the physicians and the generosity of the Merlis Belsher Family, the Minogue family committed to a $125,000 gift, the largest amount they’ve ever given to a foundation. 

“We were treated with open arms, respect and inclusion at St. Paul’s,” Danny said. “The reason we wanted to give was because of the people. It was really the friendship with Merlis, the professionalism and friendship with Dr. Peter Spafford, and the partnership with Lecina (St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation’s CEO), who is also a star and pleasure to deal with. We had a very good feeling about everything.” 

Marc further adds that “the Minogue family dedicated to give out of great respect for the vision of robotic programming held by Dr. Ivar Mendez, and because we admired Dr. Varun Bathini’s years of hard work, energy and passion, which served as the ‘spark plug’ for this project.” 

For the Minogue family, being part of a fundraising campaign to bring this cutting-edge health care to Saskatchewan, even though their own community is provinces away, felt wonderful. Marc hopes the story of the co-operation, teamwork and philanthropy that brought the da Vinci Surgical Robot to St. Paul’s Hospital will inspire other hospitals and donors to do the same. 

“This is just phase one for your province in regards to robotic-assisted surgery,” he says. “There will be a need for other robots in the future. In order to get the highest quality of care, people need to give for their communities because the effects will be felt province-wide, city-wide, and will enhance the overall health of the communities that they live in.”

Since September 2022, the da Vinci Robot cutting-edge technology has performed over 200 surgical procedures at St. Paul’s Hospital, resulting in significantly reduced surgical recovery times and better patient outcomes. As a further positive benefit, the surgical robot “Daryl” is reducing surgical waiting times, thereby positively impacting the health and well-being of our community.


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