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2014 International Award

Dr. Louis Keith and Donald Keith

2014 International Award

The MADA INTERNATIONAL award is presented to an individual who has displayed outstanding dedication or has been responsible for exceptional accomplishments of international significance in multiple births issues, and that has a Canadian element or impact on the Canadian multiple-birth community.

2014 winners of the International MADA award are Dr. Louis Keith and Donald Keith.

The Multiple Births Canada (MBC) Board and Executive Director are saddened by the recent passing of Dr. Louis Keith, who along with his twin brother Donald, shared a passion for making a difference internationally for multiple-birth individuals and their families.

Individually or together, both Donald and Louis have been instrumental in the development of resources and the support offered to multiples, families of multiples and national organizations supporting families all over the world.

Here are just a few of their accomplishments in the field of multiple births:

Louis and Donald were supporters of the Twin Festival in Twinsburg, Ohio, attending the first events and encouraging the event organizers and multiples to attend over the years. The event provided an opportunity for multiple-birth individuals to network with each other and provided an opportunity for twin research which Louis and Donald used for the work they did at their Center for the Study of Multiple Births.

The Keith brothers established the Center for the Study of Multiple Birth, a non-profit organization created in 1977 for research, education, and public service in twin studies. Over the years the center was responsible for publishing or supporting the publication of many articles and books relating to multiple births.

Louis was a great support to MBC’s (formerly POMBA Canada) founder, the late Sheryl McInnes. Back in 1982, he and his brother Donald, joined efforts to produce one of MBC’s first publications – Breastfeeding twins, triplets and quadruplets: 195 Practical Hints for Success. Louis urged MBC through our founder Sheryl to join the International Society for Twin Studies (ISTS).

Louis and Donald shared their expertise and sense of humour with MBC families in 1986, when they were keynote speakers at the MBC National Conference in London, Ontario.

Louis served on MBC’s Advisory Board for over 30 years as one of the more active members, always willing to edit and contribute to the development of MBC publications. He regularly provided feedback on MBC's National Multiple Birth Awareness Day themes.

In the 1990s, Louis and Donald Keith worked on networking with other international experts to establish the Council of Multiple Birth Organizations (COMBO), an arm of the International Society for Twin Studies (ISTS). Prior to that, ISTS was a scientific research organization focused on research using twins as their control group to study general health issues. Louis and other international experts (i.e. Dr. Elizabeth Bryan, Patricia Malmstrom) joined forces to broaden the purpose of ISTS to include research on multiple pregnancy, birth and parenting.

Donald and Louis Keith held the positions of Co-Presidents of the International Society for Twin Studies (ISTS) in the late 1990's and early 2000's.

In 2000, Dr. Louis Keith served on a working group to establish the SOGC’s (Society of Obstricians and Gynaecologists of Canada) Consensus Statement on the Management of Multiple Pregnancy. This work sparked the interest of Dr. Jon Barrett to form a multiple pregnancy clinic in Toronto.

Dr. Louis Keith was always encouraging and supporting younger doctors in obstetrics to take an interest in multiple pregnancy and birth, including the world-famous Dr. Isaac Blickstein (Israel), Dr. Barbara Luke (USA) as well as Canadian experts Dr. Jon Barrett and Dr. Geoffrey Machin.

In 2005, he invited Donna Launslager, MBC’s Health & Education Committee Chair, and mother of quadruplets to write a chapter in his book Multiple Pregnancy: Epidemiology, Gestation and Perinatal Outcome that he and Dr. Isaac Blickstein published – 976 pages of articles by medical experts worldwide on many aspects of multiple pregnancy and birth.

In 2006, Donald and Louis Keith gave a keynote address at the MBC National Conference in Chatham, Ontario. At this conference, MBC awarded Louis and Donald with the Adult “Dionne” Making a Difference Award.

In 2010, at the International Congress on Twin Studies in Seoul, South Korea, Louis and Donald found time to attend the International Council of Multiple Birth Organization (ICOMBO) Business Meeting. They were vocal in their support and applauded the final version of the MBC-led update of the Declaration of Rights and Statement of Needs of Twins and Higher Order Multiples.

The most recent work to impact MBC and multiple-birth parents in Canada and around the world by both Donald and Louis has been their work in the area of Post-Partum Hemorrhage with a survey that they developed to study this topic further. MBC (along with other ICOMBO Members) contributed to the development of the survey and then shared it with our members to ask for their participation. The hope is that the information that they collected will shape the future of care that families with multiples in Canada (and around the world) will receive as a result. The results were presented at the 2012 Congress in Italy and used to help update a textbook on Post-Partum Hemorrhage that Louis had helped author and used in his lecturing to medical students.

Donald Keith has been a Board Member of ICOMBO since 2012, providing advice and encouragement in the work completed by the many national organizations supporting families of multiples around the world including MBC, and will renew for another term during the ISTS Congress and ICOMBO Business meetings in Budapest in November 2014.

Donald and Louis have been key contributors and champions in the international multiple-birth community which always had a positive impact on MBC, its volunteers and the multiple-birth families of Canada. For that reason, we nominate them both to receive this award.

When Donald Keith was informed that he and his brother Louis won the International MADA award, he sent the following message in response:

"Many people believe there is no such thing as coincidence. They believe that everything we do and say is according to a grand plan. My brother and I spent hours discussing what the plan was for us. We always thought it was in the future, that it would be big, and it would make a difference, and that most likely, both of us would be involved.

We held these discussions at the same time we were working on projects for the Center for Study of Multiple Birth, writing scientific articles, or publishing twin related books. We were so close to the forest we could not see the trees.

It all began in 1977 on a long-distance phone call right after Louis delivered a set of premature, severely underweight twins, who, unfortunately destined not to survive. Louis was very emotional, upset, and remarked that these kids would never have the chance we had to grow up like we had. We decided then and there to find out why and what could be done to prevent this from happening. We were on our way to making a difference. The Northwestern University Multihospital Study which took several years and had over 13,000 women participants answered the question and changed the practice of medicine for expectant mothers. Physicians could now take measures to lessen the risk of prematurity and low birth weight.

Over the years there were many other projects, papers, and book that made a difference. The last, and most notable is his book on PPH or post-partum hemorrhage, a medical condition that almost claimed our own mother immediately after we were born. The book has been translated into several languages and is available online, free for all physicians. It is impossible to estimate the number of women who are still alive because of this book.

Now that Louis is gone, it is easy to see what our mission was, why we were twins, and what we did. Hopefully we were able to make a difference in many people’s lives."

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