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by Rhonda Spivak, May 15, 2021

Dr. Ted Lyons, Officer of the Order of Canada, this year's Negev Gala Honouree, is a radiologist with an international reputation in the area of advanced ultrasound imagery, who also has a distinguished record of community service and leadership. He will be honoured  at the Negev Gala which will take place online on Monday May 31, 2021.

Growing up, Lyons has fond memories of  summers  spent at his family cottage at #3 first Ave in Gimli. "My mother Edith and the other Jewish women got together and formed the Gimli summer club that took up most of our days every week day. There were arts and crafts, water sports and days at the park...Arts and crafts were held at Marjorie Blankstein's cottage on Lakefront....I ultimately became the swimming instructor for one summer and then the camp director and swimming instructor for two or three summers. It was a memorable time for me," he says

Although Lyons has had an immensely successful career in medicine, he was not accepted into medicine on his first try, and candidly admits that he was a mediocre student in high school and his first three years of university. “For high school my mom told me that I was going to Gordon Bell high school across the river from Kelvin high school where all my friends were going. Her thinking was that I was a very average student and maybe it was the influence of my friends that kept me from studying and excelling and so I was to go to Gordon Bell. I went to Gordon Bell for grades 10 and 11 and was again a very average student getting somewhat less than a 60-average overall. As my marks did not improve my mother relented and said I could join my friends in Kelvin for grade 12.”

In university, Lyons obtained a  Bachelor of Science Degree, and applied to the Faculty of Medicine but his marks were not high enough such that he was not accepted. "The average needed to be over 68," he recalls. He took a bunch of half courses that elevated his grade point average, applied a second time, and was accepted into medicine.

During the summer before medical school Ted went travelling  for four months with Bryan Klein and Gary Smith. "We visited all the countries in Europe and Israel. We all had a euro rail pass and usually slept on the train to save money instead of paying for a hotel room. I ran out of money when we were in Holland at the very end of our trip and stayed in the front hall of a gentleman's house and slept on the floor. I had no money left for food but he had apple trees in the front yard and I ate them continuously,” Ted recalls.

Lyons got engaged and married to Harriet Jacob during his fourth year of medicine. Harriet became a teacher and later on an accomplished potter.

In 1969 Lyons entered radiology as a first-year resident and as a section head of Diagnostic Ultrasound. "I continued in that role for 25 years. I introduced ultrasound in all Manitoba hospitals. I was the consultant to Manitoba Health on the orderly expansion of ultrasound. In other provinces there was less of a structured rollout of ultrasound services. There was also rapid expansion of private practice ultrasound in other provinces but none in Manitoba. This made for a higher quality ultrasound service in Manitoba.  I introduced all aspects of ultrasound examinations of the head, chest, heart, abdomen, pelvis and limbs.”

Lyons worked with Israeli technology to make a medical breakthrough. "Working closely with Elscint, an Israeli Ultrasound company, I introduced the use of intracavitary Ultrasound specifically the vaginal probe that was placed into the vagina to image the uterus and especially early intrauterine pregnancies. It could accurately diagnose a pregnancy as early as 4-5 weeks after the last menstrual period. We saw the earliest fetus a 2 mm embryo at 6 weeks with a beating heart. This had not been seen before at this early stage. This had the largest impact on the practice of early obstetrics," he says.

In 1990  Lyons was promoted to Professor and Chairman of the Dept of Radiology at Health sciences Center and the University of Manitoba. Throughout  his  career  he was very successful in presenting Ultrasound lectures and was frequently invited to lecture around the world.  " I presented the Barry B. Goldberg lecture to the Israeli Ultrasound Society. I was invited to lecture in China, India, all over  Europe,  as well as North and South America. I lectured and travelled up to 123 days a year at my peak."

Ted and Harriet Lyons have two children, Sami and Mara and five grandchildren who all live here. Lyons told the Winnipeg Jewish Review that he plans on continuing to practice as long as possible. "One reason is that it is important to Harriet  and I that our  grandchildren continue to go to Gray Academy."

Lyons has received many honours and distinctions within the Jewish and general communities. For example, in 2008 he was given the Order of Canada for Health Care and in 2012, he was awarded the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal. In 2014 he was given the Saul Kanee Distinguished Community Service award by the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg, and in 2016 he was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the University of Manitoba.

Lyons served as the president of Shaarey Zedek Congregation in 1999  and as President of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg from 2005-2007, that most recently he has also served as President of the Simkin Centre. Over the years he  served on the boards of: Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University, the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg, United Israel Appeal Federations Canada, Jewish Foundation of Manitoba, Asper Jewish Community Campus, the Conservative Yeshiva Rabbinical School of Canada and  the Simkin Centre.

Funds raised from this year’s Negev Gala will go to “The Bervin JNF Canada House of Excellence."  The Canada House is designed to close the educational achievement gap, foster academic success and empower youth in the periphery. It is being built in Sderot, the Israeli city closest to the border with Gaza, and will serve as an after-school education, empowerment, and enrichment centre for high school students from Sderot and its surroundings, who will be provided with the necessary tools and skills for scholastic and personal success.

Ted and Harriet  first learned of the Sderot project in the fall of 2019 when he and Harriet  visited  Israel for their granddaughter’s bat mitzvah and were taken by JNF  to visit  a similar project in Nof Hagalil. "We were very  impressed with what we saw and decided that a similar project would be something we wanted to become involved in.”

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.