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.
Bob Stone
I met Karen too many years ago to care to remember. I went to school with her brother Brian. Brian, so sorry you have lost her. Long before she became a world renowned specialist, she was a recent medical school graduate, working at Toronto General Hospital. One night I showed up there with my 2 year old son who had accidentally fallen into a poorly stored storm window and badly cut his lip. And who should be there to stitch him up but Karen. Most would never see any evidence but when I look at my son, I often am reminded of Karen and what a great job she did. Very grateful. Bob Stone, Vancouver BC
Marilyn Pattison
To the extended Magee/Pape families: I was so sorry to learn of Karen’s passing. My husband and I were fortunate to know the Magee family (Brian and Bill were business associates and friends) and we enjoyed some great times with Karen. We admired her intellect, her commitment to her profession and to her patients, and always enjoyed her wonderful wit and ready laugh. I have no doubt she will be greatly missed. Warm regards, Marilyn Pattison
Jennifer B.
Dr. Pape became a lifeline for me as I began our journey after my daughter's initial diagnosis. I cannot express my gratitude enough for her research and advocacy for the children. Rest in peace. To the family, all of my heartfelt prayers to you as you mourn her passing.
Melanie Riggins
When our daughter was diagnosed with a brain injury at birth and we found Hope For HIE, we also found the work of Dr. Karen Pape. Dr. Pape’s passion for neuroplasticity and guidance along the journey gifted us with HOPE and for that she will always be remembered and we will always be thankful. With our utmost respect and deepest condolences, The Riggins Family
Andria Spindel
Karen worked with March of Dimes years past and recently and we admired and respected her greatly. When she launched her book, The Boy who could run but not walk, she celebrated our work with children who have neuro-motor disorders, despite having just learned of her having cancer. She was brave, funny, brilliant, dedicated and innovative. Karen was a crusader for children and adults with disabilities and we will sincerely miss her.
Ximena Beilin
I am mother of Delfina (CP due to HIE, 2004-2007) & co-founder of The Delfina Baratelli Foundation for Brain Injuries Prevention & Repair (Buenos Aires, Argentina). I always followed Karen's work since I learnt about it almost ten years ago. She has made such a positive impact in the field and in so many children and families, not only in the US, but in many other places. She will be very, very missed but I have no doubt her work will continue to be forever helpful worldwide. Love & gratefulness from Argentina, Ximena 💚
Barbara Hodge
I am one of the many, many therapists who Karen provoked to think differently. I had told her “my brain always hurt” after a Karen session. Just what she intended!! One of her chosen last presentations, only a few weeks ago, was to make a final presentation to The NDTA instructors group. There was a great affinity with her philosophy and ours. Karen was always very respectful and grateful to her mentors, as seen in her book. To her family and friends , please know that SHE was the greatest mentor to so many in this profession. Her personality and professional contributions will be very sadly missed.
Betsy Pilon
After first meeting Karen a few years ago at a conference in Cincinnati, she became one of Hope for HIE's cheerleaders, a personal confidante of mine, and friend. Her contributions to families like mine, and those in Hope for HIE, are monumental... fundamentally shifting and embracing all that the word "hope" can mean for children with complex brain injuries and neurological challenges. There just aren't enough words to thank her and honor her for the work that has shifted the paradigm of treatment and approach for medical practitioners and families. THANK YOU to her family who supported her relentless work to advocate and champion this important work. She will be remembered by thousands and thousands of people, leaving a permanent mark of HOPE in each of our hearts. Many condolences from the entire Hope for HIE Board of Directors and thousands of families worldwide in our network to Karen's family and circle of friends.
Drew Smith
I first met Karen more than 25 years ago when I was in assistant professor at the University of Toronto. I had never met anyone quite like Karen. She was unlike any other physician or academic that I had ever worked with. She had a truly unique way of looking at things and was not encumbered by conventional thinking. As a young academic, I found that very exciting to work with someone who didn’t seem to be boxed in by ordinary thinking. We work together for a few years and then I embarked on my career that’s taking me all over the world. I did not communicate with Karen on a regular basis but occasionally we would communicate and it was always great to hear from her. I’m glad that she was able to publish her book before her passing. As much as I thought I knew Karen well, I learned so many more things about her in reading her book. I believe it will stand as a testament to her legacy. To her family and friends I extend my sincerest condolences for your loss. There will never be another person like Karen Pape and the world is so much richer for her being in it.
Merryn Straker
Watching a TedX talk of Karen on 8th November 2015 singularly changed our lives forever. Our son Oscar, then an 8 year old with Ataxic Cerebral Palsy on the other side of the world in New Zealand had no idea what I was about to get him into! I contacted Karen the next day who put me in touch with Pia and we took an 9 year old on tour to spend two weeks with Pia's team. What astounded me and was so unexpected was Karen's integral involvement - pouring over all his past specialist reports, requesting videos of him doing this and that, telling us to do it again as it wasn't good enough 🙂 Making no bones about incompetent assessments in some areas with Pia and Karen we got the full picture of our son's issues - fine/gross motor, speech, vision. She set us on a journey that I believed to the right course but one that I seemed to be a lone crusader in view on. I cannot thank her enough for the life changing input she had and I have certainly spread her message as far and wide as I can. Her book is what every family with a CP kid should read. Driven, passionate and relentless sums her up to me with a constant need to question what we were seeing and how else we might tackle it. Such a selfless need to see better options for our CP kids and adults and with such care and dedication. The world is truly a lesser place without her shining light. Much love to her family and friends. In New Zealand we have a Maori proverb "Whāia te iti kahurangi ki te tūohu koe me he maunga teitei" which means "Seek the treasure you value most dearly: if you bow your head, let it be to a lofty mountain". I truly bow my head to Karen, such for respect for all she has given.
Freeha Riaz
I am learning more about Dr. Pape via a friend and fellow mother. It is so lovely to know of her work and her relentless advocacy for children. She seems to have left a mark in this world which is highly appreciated and valued by many--I am glad to have learned of her through my friend. May she pass into the next realm with peace.
Courtney Evanchuk (Baigrie)
I first learned about Dr. Pape in late 2017, several months after my daughter suffered a severe brain injury during birth. We had been told our daughter might never walk or talk or swallow or do much of anything. I researched brain injury, looking for facts but also looking for hope. I read The Boy Who Could Run But Not Walk and it changed my life. It gave me hope and helped me to see my daughter’s potential for recovery. I was so inspired after reading the book that I emailed Dr. Pape. I was blown away when she responded to my email 8 hours later, giving me tips and advice and answering my questions directly. I already felt a sort of closeness with Dr. Pape after reading her book - not only was it honest and open minded and heartfelt and full of hope, it also revealed that we both lived in Toronto and in Boston. Small world, I thought. On Dr. Pape’s recommendation, I sought out therapists for my daughter who would be her champions, who would push her and respect her limits but not label her. Also on Dr. Pape’s recommendation, I traveled with my daughter and my mother to visit the amazing Pia Stampe in April 2018. We had a wonderful visit and learned a lot from Pia. Pia actually consulted with Dr. Pape during our visit about our daughter and we have been implementing her advice. In the wake of Dr. Pape’s passing, I learned that we attended the same grade school/high school, Havergal College, in Toronto. I had no idea that we were fellow alumnae. I could not dream of a more inspirational, passionate, dedicated, brilliant, and healing soul, and I just wish I could have met her in person to say “thank you - you changed my life, and you changed my daughter’s life.” Karen, thank you for all you have done to make the world a better place and may you rest in peace.