On July 5, 2000, while dining out with two of my daughters, Melanie and Barbara, my heart stopped beating.
Luckily for me a student nurse who was at
the restaurant performed CPR and got my heart
beating again. I came to in the ambulance
and at the Royal Alex Hospital, where the
heart stopped again, Dr. Fenske worked on
me for over four minutes until he got a heart
I spent a week in the ICCU with a breathing
and feeding tube and a temporary pacemaker
attached to my leg. I then spent half a day
in the stepdown, the other half in the ward
and that night I had a permanent pacemaker
installed. The next morning I had an angiogram
where it was discovered that a disease called
sarcoidosis had damaged my mitral valve causing
a leak. There was no way to repair the leak
as my heart was badly damaged, so I was sent
Dr. Archibald my respitory doctor had been
monitoring my lungs with monthly X-rays for
about a year. A biopsy had shown the disease
was in the lymph nodes near my lungs. Sarcoidosis
usually starts in the lungs or nodes and
always travels elsewhere in the body — to
the heart in my case.
While I was in the hospital Barb tried contacting
the student nurse to thank her for saving
my life. The hospital wouldn't give us her
name so Barb wrote to an Edmonton paper asking
for help in finding the nursing student.
CityTv picked up the story, called the hospital
and Barb and I got to meet Ms. Reid, the
wonderful young lady who had saved my life.
I did not wish to be on TV for the meeting
so still pictures of me were used instead.
Back at the restaurant, apparently I had
bitten my tongue and because I was on a blood
thinner my tongue had turned black. I also
came down with shingles on my right arm.
Also, I was placed on oxygen shortly after
returning home from the hospital.
About nine months later my family physician, Dr. Amerongen,
wondered if something more could be done for me and he contacted
Dr. Fenske at the Royal Alex, where cardiologists sent me
to the University of Alberta Hospital to see if I could become
a candidate for a heart transplant. I met with Dr. Tymchak
in May; tests were done during the first week of September;
got my beeper in October and had my transplant Dec. 30, 2001.
I am so grateful to all the people who saved
my life — Dr. Amerongen, Ms. Reid, Dr. Archibald,
Dr. Fenske and the cardiologists at the Royal
Alex and the U of A Hospital, the nurses
at both hospitals who provided such excellent
care, Dr. Wang who performed my transplant
and especially the family who donated the
heart — my new heart. I also want to thank
Ilene Burton who has always been there for
Lastly to my caregiver and husband, Eddie, thank you for
all your love and