Since 2004, 630 CHED has partnered with the University Hospital Foundation for 630 CHED Heart Pledge Day to raise funds for additional life support equipment.
“We [the foundation] fund programs that take health care to the next level,” Nicole Merrifield with the foundation said Wednesday. “Innovation, excellence, research, recruitment – all of those things really take the Maz from being a great facility providing cardiac care, to a world-class centre for cardiac care, research and education.”
During his live broadcast Thursday, 630 CHED’s Ryan Jespersen spoke to a number of doctors and former patients. One, Pat Mooney, had just been discharged and was in line to donate $1,000 to Heart Pledge Day.
He had been taking his daily walk Sunday when he felt a pain in his shoulder blades. Not thinking anything of it, it wasn’t until the next day that he went to the Misericordia Hospital because the pain hadn’t gone away. The doctors there told him he was having a heart attack.
“I didn’t believe it, but the doctor was emphatic about it and said ‘you’ll be at the Mazankowski in 45 minutes’” Mooney said. “I didn’t want to argue about a thing, and an hour and a half later I had two big stents inserted into my heart.”
“I think I dodged a bullet.”
“I didn’t have any premonition or anything that I was about to die or have a heart attack,” Mooney said. “Today is what, Thursday, and I’m on my way home. It’s amazing. This is a miracle place.”
Karen Hamilton is a mom from Taber, Alberta. She was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis as a baby and told Jespersen she close to death when she received a double lung transplant at the Maz.
“I knew, if I didn’t get my transplant, I would pass away within a year.”
Hamilton had gotten to the point where her lung function had deteriorated to only 20 per cent. She was coughing five hours a day, sleeping 12 hours a day and was on oxygen 24/7.
“I was not able to be a mom to my girls,” she said.
In late 2013 Hamilton received her double lung transplant. Life is completely different for her now.
“Walking to the mailbox, taking my girls to school, all of these little things are such a blessing,” she said. “Before I couldn’t do it, I was stuck at home and relied on other people to do it.”
In Hamilton’s case an organ donor was absolutely necessary. Dr. Daniel Kim is the medical director of the advanced heart failure and heart transplant program at the Maz. He told Jespersen Thursday that organ donations are the biggest gift a person can give.
“We are then charged with that, to take that organ and deliver it to the people that need it most, not based on anything more than the generosity of those giving, and the need of those receiving,” Kim said.
In previous years, Heart Pledge Day has allowed the hospital to purchase an Arctic Sun system, to keep the body cool while the heart isn’t beating and slow down deterioration of the brain, as well as an EMCO transport, a mobile bed that has technology under the mattress to circulate an in-transit patient’s blood.
“That’s equipment that helps keep people alive while they’re at the Maz, while they’re waiting for transplant or surgery and really applies to the sickest of the sick that we see at the Maz,” Merrifield said.
— GiveToUHF (@GiveToUHF) February 21, 2017
Patients from all over Canada are treated at the Mazankowski, and has the highest neonatal survival rate in North America. The catchment area is equivalent to the land mass of Western Europe; that’s about 65 million square kilometres worth of people receiving care.
“The Maz does provide care for the patients from prenatal care, right through end of life and from diagnosis through treatment recovery and rehabilitation,” Merrifield said. “It’s really a comprehensive centre for cardiac care.”
LISTEN: Dr. Daniel Kim talks to 630 CHED’s Ryan Jespersen about the importance of organ donation
630 CHED will be broadcasting live through the day sharing the stories of people who have benefited from the Mazankowski’s excellent level of care. Listen live from 5:30 a.m. to noon, then again from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
“It’s bittersweet to come back,” Hamilton said, looking around. “You see other people walking that journey and it’s hard to see, but I’m just so thankful there’s a place like this to help everybody.”
“You may not need the treatment you receive here today or tomorrow or next year, but when you do it’s going to be here,” Mooney said.
“I think we do realise that we’re good at we do,” Kim said. “But, at the end of the day, we’re just the middle people in that relationship between donor and recipient.”