Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Marie's Story

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 beat.

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 home.

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 me.

Lastly to my caregiver and husband, Eddie, thank you for all your love and

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