The Herbie Fund
Some families may not have the financial means (e.g. private health insurance, ability to self-pay, or financial support from their government or embassy) to pay for treatment at SickKids. The Herbie Fund is a unique humanitarian fund within the International Patient Program that provides eligible referrals with financial support for surgical care at SickKids.
Please note that the Herbie Fund does not provide financial support for any non-medical costs, such as airfare or accommodations while in Toronto.
The story of Herbie
In 1978, Herbie Quinones of Brooklyn, New York, was born with a rare birth defect that made it difficult for him to breathe. Every time he swallowed became a life-threatening situation. He needed an operation that was developed by Dr. Robert Filler at SickKids, but his family could not afford the cost of the trip or the surgery.
After reading about Herbie in the local newspapers, Paul and Gina Godfrey led an effort in which the people of Toronto generously donated money to cover Herbie's hospital costs. Dr. Filler offered to perform the surgery without a fee. In February 1979, Herbie came to Toronto for this lifesaving operation, returning to Brooklyn a much happier and healthier little boy. After all of Herbie's medical expenses had been paid, the account that had been opened to cover the costs of his care had $17,000 remaining.
The Godfreys then decided to establish The Herbie Fund at SickKids, to be used to help other children, like Herbie Quinones, to receive necessary surgery at SickKids. Over the ensuing decades since its founding, the Herbie Fund has supported medical treatment for hundreds of children from disadvantaged parts of the world, who might never have had the chance to receive the treatment they required to live a healthy and happy life.
The Herbie Fund eligibility criteria
The Herbie fund is supported by donations from corporate sponsors, agencies and communities in and around the Greater Toronto Area. In addition, SickKids doctors waive their fees so that every dollar donated goes directly toward supporting treatments that help international children in need.
- Patients must be less than 17 years old at time of application;
- Treatment must be completed before the patient's 18th birthday;
- Surgical treatment and care will be carried out only at SickKids in Toronto;
- The required surgery or procedure is not available in the patient's country of residence, or the required treatment can more effectively be carried out at SickKids by SickKids experts;
- Requested treatment is a one-time surgical treatment only, or a sequential series of surgical treatments that will be completed within an 8-week period;
- The Herbie Medical Review Committee must determine if the treatment required will be life-altering and have a lasting impact for the child undergoing the procedure;
- A responsible doctor in the applicant's place of residence must be identified and secured, to provide post-operative and follow-up care once the child is discharged from SickKids;
- A Canadian host must be available and willing to accommodate the family;
- The applicant and his or her family must return to their home country once discharged from SickKids.
Conditions and services that are not eligible for Herbie Fund assistance:
- Consultations/assessments/medical second opinions
- Kidney dialysis
- Bone marrow and stem cell transplantation
- Solid organ transplantation (including heart, lung, kidney, etc.)
- Chronic and/or long-term rehabilitation
- Developmental delay
- Cerebral palsy management
Please see our FAQ section for quick answers to questions you may have.
The International Patient Program office is open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. EST. A representative from our team will review your message and contact you within 3-5 business days.
If you would like to meet with a member of our team in person to discuss your needs and concerns, please email us to make an appointment in advance. We are unable to accommodate walk-ins.
Phone: +1-416-813-7654 ext. 428917
After our normal business hours and on weekends, you may leave a message on our confidential voicemail system. Your voicemail message will be checked the following business day.
Please note that email may be intercepted between the sender and the receiver and is therefore neither secure nor confidential. Your continued use of email communication confirms that you accept this risk.
We can serve you better if you can provide the following information when you contact us via email:
- Contact Information
- Relationship to Patient: Parent/Legal Guardian or referring physicians
- Patient Information
- Patient name
- Date of birth
- Country of residence
- Country of citizenship
- Payment method
- Service or treatment requested at SickKids
If you would like to mail us required documents, please send them to the following address:
International Patient Program
The Hospital for Sick Children
555 University Avenue