Karen Elaine Magee Pape

Karen passed away peacefully at home on Saturday June 2, 2018. Daughter of the late Brian and Elaine Magee. Mother of Sarah, Aaron (Lisa Richardson), and loving Nana to Daniela and Jack. Much-loved sister of Brian (Susan) Magee, Ivan Magee and the late Judy (Normand) Baril. Beloved former spouse of Paul Pape. Proud aunt of Brendan, Diana & Charles. Karen was a pillar of strength for her family with an enormous heart.

A graduate of Havergal College, McGill University and the University of Toronto Medical School, Karen was a neonatologist at The Hospital for Sick Children, the Director of the Neonatal Follow - Up Program and the President of the Medical Staff. Widely published, she was instrumental in the development of neonatal ultra sound brain scanning now used in intensive care units around the world. After leaving HSC, Karen became a pioneer in the field of neuroplasticity in children with early brain and nerve injuries. She was a tireless advocate for a revolution in the treatment for children with cerebral palsy. Karen captured this work in her recently published book, The Boy Who Could Run But Not Walk.

She was a rebel with a cause who took no prisoners nor suffered fools. Karen took the road less travelled by and that made all the difference to thousands of her patients and their families. To the end, Karen was still thinking of ways to advocate for improving the treatments available for children with early brain and nerve injuries. She did not go gentle into that good night. In the weeks before her death, Karen endowed a foundation to provide funds to continue her work in this field.

Her family would like to thank Wing Lam and Pia Stampe for their support.
There will be a celebration of Karen’s life on Tuesday June 12, 2018 at The Rosedale Golf Club from 4 to 7pm. In lieu of flowers, the family asks you to consider a donation to Karen’s foundation.

Memories & Condolences


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52 entries.
Cynthia Frisina
It’s the start of a new year and I still can’t believe Karen is not physically present with us anymore - although I feel her presence almost daily. There is no one who changed the way I thought about my daughter, Cathryn’s care and future more than Karen Pape. I am eternally grateful to her for changing the future for Cathryn. I loved Karen’s non nonsense straight talk, brilliance and huge heart. I’ll never forget Karen’s kindness to me and my daughter in helping find the first pair of pretty shoes that fit Cathryn’s feet, and how Karen made Cathryn really believe that she was an athlete and could run and walk better than we ever thought possible, despite having CP. I know for sure that Karen was smiling down on Cathryn when she became a national adaptive track and field champion 😀. I personally miss Karen’s friendship and wise counsel every day. You are forever in our hearts Karen! Miss you. Till we meet again, Cindy and Cathryn
James MacPherson
I was so saddened to learn of Karen's passing. I was close friend of her parents and through them met and learned to appreciate all Karen's achievements. Enjoyed trips with father Brian and her to the Ristigouche Salmon Club. Such a lovely talented lady.
Nancy Webb
On behalf of the entire Webb family, I send our heartfelt condolences. Karen was so kind and generous after my father's stroke by helping to align us with experts. I will forever think of her as I paddle by her beautiful Stony Lake garden.
Karen P.
So sad to hear this news! I heard Dr. Pape speak @ a conference held by the Weinberg Family Cerebral Palsy Center in 11/2015. We connected instantly because we had the same first name & last initial. Through the conference and some emails, she reinforced my belief that there are answers to the challenges of aging with CP.
Bob Fitzsimons
I worked with Karen for two years in Pam Fitzhardinge's unit forty years ago. Though only a year older than me, she had confidence and vision, and I'm not surprised at her subsequent carreer. I have worked in Ireland since 1978 so have been out of touch, but I look forward to reading her book.
Susan Hastings
I only connected directly with Karen in the last 2 years, due to my work with children using functional electrical stimulation, or FES, (I think Pia Stampe connected us), but have been familiar with her work for a long time. Her caring and desire to advance the care of children with CP was evident, as she contacted me on Linked In, and wanted meet me for dinner at the 2017 AACPDM Conference, where she was presenting, and discuss my approach to using FES. One of my regrets in life was that I was unable to meet with her in person; however, we did share long emails about her book and my approach to treatment, as well as her own thoughts on electrical stimulation. Karen offered to send her book to me, but I had already purchased and read it when it first was published, and I was so inspired by her life. She was so knowledgeable, and so open to hearing others' ideas! After that, she generously offered to share my course offerings on her website. Truly a giant in the field of CP treatment, her care and commitment will be missed by the therapists" and families' lives that she touched.
Mary Jo Day
I am very sad to hear of Dr. Pape's passing. I had the privilege of being seen by Dr. Pape and her staff at Magee Clinic in 1990 when I was a senior in high school. I am a long time client of Easter Seals Dupage and Fox Valley in the United States. My therapists suggested that I go see Dr. Pape. My mom and I spent three days learning from her and her staff. She was a great doctor because she really listened to what my goals were as I was getting ready to go away to college. She made learning how to use the TES stimulation system on my legs easy for a future college student. Dr. Pape also taught me about the importance of staying as physically active with cerebral palsy as possible. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to meet her. An incredible woman!
Sarah Scott
It has been my privilege to get to know Karen as we worked on her groundbreaking book, The Boy who Could Run But Not Walk. In this book, Karen makes a compelling argument that children with brain damage can be spared the devastating effects of Cerebral Palsy. She has made a huge contribution to our understanding of early brain damage, and I hope her book will inspire parents and health professionals for a very long time. Thank you, Karen, for being a tremendous author and collaborator. From her publisher at Barlow Books and from an admiring friend, Sarah Scott.
Mara Yale
I was deeply saddened to learn that Karen had died. We corresponded over the past five years as my daughter had a stroke at birth and Karen was a huge supporter of my daughter and me as outliers. This winter, I had reached out to Karen to find a blog post she wrote about my daughter because another parent was seeking it. I've just republished it as Karen knew other families wanted to read this (http://marazoemia.net/2018/06/15/a-true-outlier-mia-skins-the-cat/). In the months after I knew that Karen was sick, she responded to my inquiries about her health by enlisting my help to design review her updates to her website, to collect resources to share as part of her legacy. I did what I could, and I would love to be actively involved in the foundation. In the past year, I've made a major career and life decision to transition from nearly two decades in software engineering to focus on rehabilitation, particularly to support children with early neurological difficulties. Even though our correspondence was limited and I never got to meet Karen in person, she was a key mentor and inspiration for me, part of why I decided to make this leap.
John Reeves
So sad to see Karen gone but I'm certain she was fiesty to the end! The last time I saw her, my wife and I joined Karen for a very pleasant lunch at her Florida abode in the spring of 2017. Although I first did business with Karen back in the early 80's and we met infrequently over the years, this was the first time we were able to overlap and get together in our mutual southern winter homes. John & Erin Reeves (Ottawa)
Marguerite Senecal
Karen was a Brave Pathfinder, a Courageous Truth-teller and an Extraordinary Scientist. She was always ready to ask the next question and to challenge the most entrenched dogma and assumptions, even her own. I interviewed and filmed Karen when she was first working with a young child, Michelle Kungl, who was given a bleak prognosis for a short, dependent life, and who is thriving today at 35, (see above tribute). I am in awe of the strength of Karen's convictions, her utter refusal to take 'no' for an answer and her astounding persistence and perseverance. In 2003 Karen agreed to be included in "Northern Lights: Outstanding Canadian Women". I hoped that young women reading her story would be encouraged by how she found her way into her chosen field, and uplifted by her discoveries and enduring commitment to both her patients and the advancement of science. Personally, I loved her sharp mind and her sense of humour, and found her uncensored language refreshing and bracing. Saying what she saw, no holds barred with people she trusted, seemed to help her to cope with the upset she felt when her ideas and discoveries were met at times with a stubborn refusal to explore and question. She was tough in the best sense. In her own words, she had a "less than conciliatory personality", (which has its advantages). But she was also a woman of great sensitivity and empathy, who cared and loved deeply, and understood the human condition. We have lost a truly Outstanding woman, physician and Canadian. We can best honour her by carrying her mission forward with a similar passion. Thank you Karen, for making the world a better place for all of us and for shining your brilliant light into corners of ignorance and darkness.
Christine Egan
I wish I could be in Toronto today to celebrate Karen's life and work. I too, like many of you, am at a loss for words in describing the impact that Karen Pape MD had on me in my professional life as well as scores of others, whose lives she touched. I loved her "edge" and ability to state simply what is. Every day in my clinic I hear Karen's words as I interact with clients and families. So many pearls of wisdom, but one of my favorites is, "In my world, two year olds don't make medical decisions"...gotta love it! With tears in my eyes, I will raise a glass of chardonnay today and toast to my mentor, my hero and my friend, Karen Pape. For those of us who knew her well, carried out her work and benefited from her boldness, it may now be time to carry her legacy forward.
Ruth Grant-Bailey, Cincinnati OH
There are no words. The world has lost such an incredible feisty trailblazer for the cerebral palsy community especially the teenagers. Teenagers are often thought of "that's it, they are where they will be" but Dr. Pape didn't believe that. She even proved that with my son, Mason. Mason made tremendous progress following an intensive program with Pia Stampe, PT under Karen's direction. Dr. Pape was so knowledgeable, so loving, so approachable, generous, kind, and so passionate about wanting change for our kids!!! My heart aches for her family, friends, and all of the lives she has touched. However, I'm huge believer and I know that Karen will continue her work from the other side. The work she left on Earth (i.e. her blogs, books, relationships) will continue to flourish, and she will guide and mentor us through her spiritual side (versus physical side). Rest, Karen. Rejoice in heaven and bask in your accomplishments. We look forward to you "showing up" in different ways and continuing your trailblazing efforts from the other side. You were an amazing person and that person (humanly body) was made up of an AMAZING soul and spirit!!! Love you, girl!! Thinking of you, family, and friends as your life is celebrated today in Canada!
choppy rouse
On Sunday, 6/10 I submitted condolences via this entry and hope they were received by the family can someone please let me know, thank you, choppy
Lyn, Michelle Kungl and Family
To say that Karen influenced our daughter’s life and our family would be an incredible understatement. I met Karen 36 years ago, two days after the birth of my beautiful first child, Michelle Kungl. During the delivery, it was thought that Michelle’s spinal cord had been severed at C3 and as a result she required an immediate tracheostomy and to be put on a life supporting ventilator. Her diagnosis was dismal. We were told that she would not likely live more than a few months and that she would never have any function below the neck nor be able to live off of a ventilator. But Michelle survived. She lived at Sick Children’s Hospital for a full 7 years, the first 3 in the ICU. She was transferred to Bloorview for the following 7 years, only able to come home with support staff for a few days at a time. The whole time and up until months before she passed away Karen was ever present in her and our families lives. Karen never gave up trying to come up with ideas about how Michelle’s situation might be improved. Karen Pape is the reason Michelle finally sat up on her own at the age of 3, walked at the age of 7, was weaned off the ventilator for longer and longer periods of time. Fast forward to today and you will find that Michelle spends as much as 10 hours at a time free of her ventilator, lives in her own apartment and drives her own vehicle to her full-time job. These were the unbelievable accomplishments that Karen directly helped Michelle to achieve. Karen was an ongoing advocate and cheerleader for Michelle and our whole family and she will be remembered with love and appreciation forever.
Victoria Naraghi
I have lost someone I truly respected, admired and loved. Your smile, wit and honesty will be sorely missed. I was privileged to have you be a part of my life and will miss you. You will be with me in my heart eternally.
Mary Lynne Stewart and Margaret Purcell
Karen was a great friend to March of Dimes. We were very saddened to hear about her passing. Blessings during this time.
Matthew Blake
The Cerebral Palsy community has lost a great advocate and warrior in the medical world! May God Bless Dr. Pape! Thank you for all your help you gave countless individuals like me who live with the daily struggles of cerebral palsy!
Francine Litz
Dr. Pape, you've done well. You opened up our minds to new concepts and new tools. You helped so many children, so many families. Rest in peace.
Tema Stein Stotland
I’m not usually at a loss for words but the loss of Karen has totally devastated me. I write this with tears in my eyes- sadness over the loss of this beautiful woman whose tenacity and directness inspired me throughout my entire career and for the support and respect that she showed me. She guided and gave hope to so many families with concrete and often direct suggestions for seeking help. She gave families hope when it was taken away from them. She did not suffer fools easily and I’m happy that I was in her good graces. She actually honoured me in her beautiful book. She is up there with Sarah Forsythe, Barb Macdonald and Sharon Fullerton. I miss them all.