How a second chance inspired a legacy gift
Alumnus talks about his decision to include Waterloo in his will
Eric Celentano (BSc ’79) looks at every new day as a blessing.
That’s because seven years ago, a double-lung transplant was his only hope of surviving the rare fibrosis that was slowly hardening his lungs.
At the time of his prognosis, Eric was living in BC. He moved to Toronto for specialized medical care and the support of his family. Staying healthy and fit enough to withstand transplant surgery — when and if the chance came — became his priority.
After settling in Toronto, he took the opportunity to reconnect with the University of Waterloo. “As an alumnus, I was already receiving newsletters and other communications, but I wanted a more meaningful connection.” He began attending reunion and faculty events where he enjoyed catching up with students, faculty members and former classmates.
By 2016 though, Eric’s condition had worsened. “I could barely walk down the hall. Eventually, I couldn’t shower without being on oxygen. I was really starting to struggle.”
Eric went on the wait list for a transplant. “It was time for me to take stock and make plans in case things didn’t work out. As part of that process, I needed to organize my financial affairs.”
In late 2018, after a few false starts, Eric received the life-saving surgery. Three months of intensive rehabilitation returned him to a “surprisingly normal” life.
Grateful for his second chance and wanting to give back, Eric became a patient advocate for Trillium Gift of Life Network. “Through my transplant experience, I learned that non-profit organizations like the UHN Foundations contribute significant funding to the organ transplant program. That’s how I became aware of the importance of philanthropy.”
Eric also decided to make a gift to Waterloo through his will. “The future is not predictable. Even the present is a bit precarious because of the pandemic, particularly with me being more vulnerable than most with my suppressed immune system. As part of my long-term financial planning, I felt it was necessary to make this commitment now. Initially, I thought it would be complicated, but after some research and conversations with my financial advisors, I found an easy solution that works for me.”
ERIC CELENTANO, ALUMNUS
To anyone thinking about making such a gift, I’d say to them the same thing I’d say to someone considering organ donation registration: It’s a personal decision. Speak to your family, make your wishes known, and then make it happen. In both cases, you will change lives for the better.
Eric directed his legacy gift to the Faculty of Health. “I am fortunate to be in a position to make this contribution. To anyone thinking about making such a gift, I’d say to them the same thing I’d say to someone considering organ donation registration: It’s a personal decision. Speak to your family, make your wishes known, and then make it happen. In both cases, you will change lives for the better.”
Eric is an active member of Waterloo’s Toronto Alumni Chapter and the Faculty of Health representative on the Alumni Council.
The University of Waterloo acknowledges that much of our work takes place on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee peoples. Our main campus is situated on the Haldimand Tract, the land granted to the Six Nations that includes six miles on each side of the Grand River. Our active work toward reconciliation takes place across our campuses through research, learning, teaching, and community building, and is co-ordinated within the Office of Indigenous Relations.