Too often someone we know gets diagnosed with heart trouble. Even though I have family members with heart conditions I never thought it would happen to me.
My name is Brent Kaufmann. I’m 62 and earlier this year I was enjoying an active life: working, playing old-timers hockey and backpacking around South America with my wife, Brenda. We’ve always been adventurous and even had a trip planned to Australia/New Zealand this fall.
Then last May, my family physician had concerns with a recent echocardiogram and referred me to a cardiologist. After a series of tests, and before I realized the complete ramifications of what was happening, I was lying in the operating room with Dr. Caton administering anesthetic. Knowing my open heart surgery was something these skilled doctors and nurses performed every day, I felt I was in good hands.
When I woke up 36 hours later, my nurse told me I was very lucky to be alive. My aortic and mitral valves were severely calcified (“like a rock” my surgeon said). What should have been a 4-6 hour operation lasted 12. Besides the two valve replacements, I required two bypasses and the rebuilding of my heart tissue with veins taken from my legs.
Later I learned from Dr. Caton that he used a specialized cardiac ultrasound during my surgery. It was this amazing equipment that showed the cardiac team the new valve they just installed was leaking. Because they were able to see the leak, they immediately changed my surgical plan and made the necessary, and potentially life-saving, repairs.
What it meant for me was that I woke up with a strong heart and a whole new lease on life.
I didn’t have to find out the hard way that my valve wasn’t working.
I’m happy to say our plans to stroll together on an Australian beach are back on track. For this I am grateful to the Royal Jubilee staff, and I appreciate how important it is that Dr. Caton and the cardiac team have the very best tools. So many patients like me have been given a chance to be with their families for many more years and adventures to come.
Will you join me and give generously to the Victoria Hospitals Foundation to help fund the new cardiac ultrasounds?
To donate toward the cardiac ultrasound machines that helped Brent, and will help so many more patients, click ‘Donate Now’ to give online, call 250-519-1750 or send a cheque to Victoria Hospitals Foundation, Wilson Block, 1952 Bay Street, Victoria, BC, V8R 1J8.
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