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At Royal Jubilee and Victoria General hospitals, miracles happen every day. This is especially true for our cardiac patients.

Every year, over 200,000 of our community members go through a cardiac assessment at Vancouver Island hospitals, and over 6,300 cardiac procedures are performed on men and women of all ages. While many attest to the uncertainty and hardship that accompany the news of a cardiac condition, our patients take comfort in the fact they have access to a world-class cardiac program.

Over the past 30 years, the Heart Health program at Royal Jubilee Hospital has grown into a national leader and pioneer in cardiac care. The multi-disciplinary teams driving this Heart Health program have forged a culture of excellence and innovation that allows patients to quickly receive the most up-to-date procedures, recover faster and go home to their families sooner. The program has attracted physicians from around the world and turned Royal Jubilee Hospital into a referral centre for cardiac patients throughout Vancouver Island and across British Columbia.

But to perform the latest cardiac procedures, our Heart Health teams need the best equipment.

Through our Campaign for Cardiac Care, we aim to raise $3.2 million to fund 34 pieces of leading–edge equipment in seven different areas of cardiac care.

A gift to this campaign will equip our Heart Health teams with the tools they need to ensure patients have the best outcomes possible. Help miracles happen by making a gift today.

What's In a Heart?

For centuries, the heart has endured as a symbol. In song, literature and visual art, the heart signals to us what it means to be fully alive and expresses what it is to be human.

With four chambers and valves, the heart has its music and mystery. When a person is carried away by emotion, they are impulsive. Transparent, they wear their heart on their sleeve. Discouraged, we lose heart. Confident, we take heart, and so on.

The heart is no less profound in modern medical terms. It slows when we hear music or take another’s hand. It carries trauma. It reaches every extremity of the human body with its steady pulse. Over the past century, scientists and cardiologists have made incredible discoveries on the anatomy and workings of the heart, which includes astonishing procedures these experts perform to support it and extend life.

This is no exception at Royal Jubilee Hospital. Over the past 30 years, the Heart Health program has led the way as a national leader in cardiac care. The multi-disciplinary team driving this Heart Health program has forged a culture of excellence and innovation that allows patients to quickly receive the up-to-date procedures and recover faster. The program has attracted physicians from around the world and turned Royal Jubilee Hospital into a referral centre for cardiac patients throughout Vancouver Island and across British Columbia. Indeed, while many attest to the uncertainty and hardship that accompany the news of a cardiac condition, our patients take comfort in the fact they have access to a world-class cardiac program.

But to perform the latest cardiac procedures, our Heart Health team needs the best equipment. Through our Campaign for Cardiac Care, we aim to raise $3.2 million to fund 34 pieces of leading–edge equipment in seven different areas of cardiac care.

A gift to this campaign will equip our Heart Health teams with the tools they need to do their best to return patients to their loved ones. We are calling on others to make join this heart-to-heart. Help us by making a gift today.

A letter from Electrophysiologists Dr. Rick Leather and Dr. Larry Sterns

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The heart is a complex organ but it really comes down to two systems: a pump that circulates blood throughout the body and an electrical system that sends signals to maintain a steady heartbeat. To keep your heart healthy, cardiac doctors look at both of these: interventional cardiologists and cardiac surgeons unblock arteries and replace valves, and electrophysiologists ensure the heart’s electrical current follows a normal pathway, meaning it beats regularly and at a consistent speed.

As cardiologists, we both chose to focus on electrophysiology over 25 years ago, believing advancements in technology would lead to significant improvements in patient care in the coming years. Indeed, electrophysiology quickly became a therapeutic branch of cardiac care thanks to advanced equipment and innovation, and Royal Jubilee Hospital was one of the first hospitals in the country to make this happen.

In the Electrophysiology Laboratory, our Heart Health team takes on some of the most advanced cases, including heart failure patients. But we can only do our best work if we have access to sophisticated equipment.

That is why the Victoria Hospitals Foundation’s Campaign for Cardiac Care is so important. The 34 pieces of priority cardiac equipment the campaign is funding will allow us to provide the latest procedures to patients from all over Vancouver Island. In the Electrophysiology Laboratory, we use monitors, imaging systems and heart catheters, among a multitude of other tools, to treat patients with arrhythmias or irregular heartbeats.

Our patient Neil Sinclair was one of the first to benefit from advanced catheter ablation, a new electrophysiology procedure we brought to Victoria. When we met Neil, his arrhythmia predated the technology to fix it. Due to faulty electrical pathways, his heart was beating too fast and inconsistently, which left him tired, unwell and at high risk for other health issues including stroke. Since surgery was not a treatment option, the new catheter ablation procedure was the only treatment that could give him relief and restore his quality of life.

The catheter ablation uses either heat energy or freezing to disrupt or eliminate the faulty electrical pathways that cause abnormal heart rhythms. We place patients, like Neil, under general anesthesia and thread a catheter from the groin to the heart under X-Ray guidance. Using an advanced system, we map the heart extensively to locate the faulty electrical pathways and fix them with ablations — a process that scars small areas of the heart and reroutes the pathways. Thanks to new technology and knowledge, we can now patch together up to 200 ablation sites until a normal pathway is created; 20 years ago we could only do one site per procedure.

What is incredible is that this procedure can completely regulate a heartbeat with minimal recovery time. In fact, patients often go home the same day, feeling better almost immediately.

We’ve come a long way in the last twenty five years. Today, thanks to equipment and technology funded in part by community members like you, we can provide the latest treatment and give people like Neil a new lease on life.

With thanks,

Dr. Rick Leather and Dr. Larry Sterns

Electrophysiologists, Island Health

 

 

Neil Sinclair's Story

Heart issues run in my family ― my father had a triple bypass. Even so, I never thought any heart-related matters would happen to me. I don’t think any of us are ever ready for that.

It started in 1993 when I was 45 years old. I had a butterfly feeling in my chest and was quickly diagnosed with cardiac arrhythmia, meaning my heart didn’t have a regular rhythm. The electrical signals that controlled my heartbeat didn’t work properly. I had two types of arrhythmia: atrial flutter which gave me a racing heartbeat and atrial fibrillation that caused my heart to beat irregularly.

It was shocking to hear this news, and the first few years of my cardiac journey were very stressful for my family, for me and for others around me. Having arrhythmia, it taxes you. You live with this constant reminder that something is not right. I tried drug therapy and it provided limited benefits, but often I had to go to the Emergency Department for cardioversion, a procedure where an electric current is sent to my heart to reset its normal rhythm. At one point, I had to go to Emergency three times in 11 days ― it was just too much.

My physician referred me to Dr. Sterns and Dr. Leather at Royal Jubilee Hospital ― both passionate, caring and innovative electrophysiologists. Over the years, they never gave up on me. In 2005, they started talking to me about advancements in electrophysiology, a branch of cardiac care that studies the electrical component of the heart. They gave me hope that I would one day be able to have my life back.

In 2011, I had my first ablation treatment. The innovative procedure was conducted by Dr. Leather, who inserted a catheter through my groin, threaded it to my heart and gently scarred the faulty pathways that caused the atrial flutter. I woke up from the procedure with immediate relief. In fact, I remember doing a victory lap around the Cardiac Short Stay unit shortly after and going home to my wife that very same day. “I’m a new man!” I said to her.

My heart then continued to beat normally for several years until my other cardiac issue, atrial fibrillation, caught up to me. In 2014, I had a second ablation procedure and it was performed by Dr. Sterns. This time around, the procedure was more complex but again, the Heart Health team did not let me down. The procedure worked: the scars left by the ablation stopped abnormal electrical signals from moving through my heart.

I have only had two arrhythmias since receiving the second ablation procedure. I can’t tell you how it feels to have my life back again, to be able to travel without the fear of having to rush to an Emergency Department of a hospital in a distant locale and to live without the anxiety of my heart not working properly. Having cardiac issues can put your mind in a dark place, but what helps is knowing we have the best Heart Health team right here in Victoria.

I am one of thousands of people who have been helped by the incredible Heart Health team at Royal Jubilee Hospital. The technological advancements I have witnessed since 1993 are unparalleled, and I trust that Dr. Leather, Dr. Sterns and their colleagues will continue to provide the latest procedures and the very best care to our community with access to the critical equipment they need.

Please consider making a donation and supporting those who save lives. This gift is a gift to the health of our community.

 

Neil Sinclair
Grateful Patient

 

 

The First Open Heart Society & the Victoria Heart House

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Renee van Campen defies expectation. An avid athlete – wakeboarder, skier, runner, walker, DanceFix participant and yogi – she has had three open heart surgeries in her lifetime after being born with a heart defect. Today, at 50 years old, she remains active and is one of the champions of the First Open Heart Society of British Columbia.

The First Open Heart Society of British Columbia, or FOHS, was formed in 1973 on the initiative of cardiologists and early heart surgery patients to function as a support group for patients awaiting and recovering from heart surgery. The idea was first conceived by Dr. W. Glenn Friesen, a Victoria cardiologist, who realized patients and their families experience significant stress prior to, and following, open heart surgery. Dr. Friesen suggested pre-op and post-op stress could be eased if those patients could talk to those who had “walked the path.”

For three years, Renee van Campen has volunteered for FOHS, visiting cardiac recovery rooms every two weeks to speak with open heart surgery patients, share her personal cardiac experiences, and deliver heart pillow packages the Society produces for cardiac patients at Royal Jubilee Hospital.  A volunteer group from FOHS, sew the heart pillows for surgery patients to hold against their chest for comfort, especially when they cough and sneeze.

For Renee, her experience with FOHS began after her last surgery in 2014 when she saw an ad in the paper in search of volunteers with experience of open heart surgery. Remembering her own recovery, Renee says, “It was really comforting to talk to other people who have been through it. So I thought this was a way I could give back.”

On a typical visit, Renee meets one-on-one for fifteen minutes with patients. She introduces herself, tells patients about the cardiac rehabilitation program and support groups on Vancouver Island, and answers questions. “I let them know they’re speaking to someone who’s been in a similar situation. You have people who wonder if they’ll ever exercise again or if they’ll every feel “normal” again.  I encourage people to be patient with themselves because there is the occasional rough day during recovery.

Sometimes family members are more worried than the patients. “Spouses often ask what to expect. They’re nervous about everything and they don't want to hinder their partner’s progress. I tell patients about using the heart pillow against their incision on the ride home. “It’s a security blanket,” Renee explains. “My goal is to reassure people that there really is life after open heart surgery.”

 Indeed, as Renee knows firsthand, that first year of recovery can seem as daunting as surgery itself. “I felt about 85% better after the first two months, but spent the next 10 months recovering from the psychological aspects.”

Patients no doubt benefit from Renee’s confidence, warmth and liveliness. Her enthusiasm in part derives from phenomenal care she received as a cardiac patient at RJH. Renee was especially impressed by the unusual collaboration she observed between various areas of Heart Health from cardiologists and the Pacemaker Clinic to the cardiac rehabilitation program and her electrophysiologist. “They do incredibly important work here at Royal Jubilee Hospital,” Renee says. “They give people like me their life back.”

 Since 1977, FOHS has funded more than $731,000 in cardiac care medical equipment for RJH through the Victoria Hospitals Foundation. This includes a very generous gift of $25,000 towards the Foundation’s current Campaign for Cardiac Care.

“FOHS does not receive any government subsidies or any grants. We’re a completely non-profit, charitable organization,” says Carol. Indeed, their patient care and public service functions are funded by members' donations, the Society's annual fundraisers, and contributions from individuals and service clubs. The Society’s members are comprised of patients who have undergone open heart surgery, their spouses, family members, medical staff and the general public interested in the Societies objectives. All donations are used exclusively to support the aims and projects of the Society.

Carol has been a mainstay with FOHS for almost 20 years. In 1999, while working at the RJH open heart ward as a unit clerk, Carol became involved through the making of the heart pillows, sourcing and ordering materials, coordinating volunteers and workshops. After 10 years directing this effort, she joined the Board of Directors. “We operate Heart House for out of town guests whose family members are undergoing cardiovascular procedures at RJH.”

Indeed, FOHS’ objectives are to support heart and cardiovascular patients and their families; heart-related specialized medical equipment and education for area hospitals and their staff; the Victoria Heart House; and the Victoria Cardiac Rehabilitation Program. Special attention is given to the needs of the families of children who are born with heart defects. The Society sponsors those who may need travel and /or special services not available locally.

The cause is near and dear to Carol. “We’re the only place on the Island that can provide such high-level cardiac care and it means patients and their families don’t have to travel back and forth to Vancouver.”

A major initiative of FOHS is the operation of Victoria Heart House B&B, a property owned and managed by FOHS.

The Victoria Heart House is designed as a low-cost Bed & Breakfast for the spouse and family of out-of-town patients. The house provides a friendly, supportive, relaxing and non-smoking atmosphere located a short walking distance to RJH. The house has a large bright living room, dining room and kitchen. There are six guest bedrooms, each with queen, double or twin beds. There is also an outdoor patio for the added enjoyment of guests. A small library in Heart House is dedicated to the late George Coldwell, who served on the Board of Directors for 23 years and holds the record for participating in the most Heart Walks.

 The original Heart House was started in 1973 by former heart surgery patient Jim McDonald and his wife Dorothy, who leased a house on Kings Road using their own funds, collected patients at the airport or ferries and offered accommodation at a generous rate of $25. Jim would drive patients and their families to and from the hospital in his van. The McDonalds’ dream of a permanent Victoria Heart House finally came true with the completion of the present building in December 1988. On January 17, 1989, the Victoria Heart House was officially opened by the Premier and dedicated to the people of British Columbia. The efforts of FOHS are endorsed and supported by the cardiac surgeons and cardiologists in open heart surgery at the RJH in Victoria.

Heart House provides spouses and family members a supportive environment so they can support their loved ones. “As staff, it’s up to us to say, take a break from visiting the hospital this afternoon. Go to the IMAX, go to Craigdarroch Castle. RJH looks after the patient, but it’s our job to look after you,” says Suzanne Barton, long time staff member of Heart House. We’ll hang with you if you need it, put our arms around you with a big box of Kleenex — and sometimes we just need to make you laugh.”

Energetic and gregarious, Suzanne loves working at Heart House and getting to know visitors. “You wouldn’t believe the fun we have in this place. I know what it’s like to be out of town far away from anybody you know or love and have someone you love on the threshold. I know what that experience is like and I wish that when I was going through that I knew about a Heart House.”

Suzanne and other staff members do everything from book reservations, wash floors, dishes, toilets, and laundry, and cook breakfast. “We look after the caregiver when they don’t even realize they need looking after. They’re so focused on their loved one recovering and sometimes it’s up to us to take them out of that.” Suzanne is especially fond of those guests who return, “We have guests that have been coming back over ten years … I feel like he’s my Uncle Fred or grandpa. You feel like you’re family.”

Every year, more than 200,000 people on Vancouver Island receive a cardiac assessment at Vancouver Island hospitals, and over 6,300 cardiac procedures are performed on men and women of all ages. While many attest to the uncertainty and hardship that accompany the news of a cardiac condition, patients take comfort in knowing they have access to a world-class cardiac program. Through our Campaign for Cardiac Care, In a Heartbeat: Everyday Miracles, the Victoria Hospital Foundation aims to raise $3.2 million to fund 34 pieces of leading–edge equipment in seven different areas of cardiac care.

 

Diane Ball's Story

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When Dr. Lynn Fedoruk was in medical school and witnessed an open-heart surgery for the first time, she knew immediately it was what she wanted to do. She relentlessly pursued the long and arduous route to becoming a cardiac surgeon, completing an additional nine years of training. For the past ten years, Dr. Fedoruk has been saving lives and returning people to health at Royal Jubilee Hospital.

“Cardiac technology and equipment have improved drastically over the past decade, allowing more lives to be saved and overall outcomes to improve dramatically. Today we can operate on people who just 10 years ago we had to turn away,” says Dr. Fedoruk. “For example, operating on patients who are 80+ years old is now routine, whereas in the past it simply wasn’t possible.”

Dr. Fedoruk explains how advances in equipment are not, on their own, solely responsible for improved care, but are part of a bigger picture where everything from new equipment, improved imaging technology, and  better post-op care all contribute to higher survival rates. “When patient outcomes are improved by just 2% or 3%, the impact is massive. It may not seem so at first glance, but if you consider that we may operate on 700 cases a year, that means that up to 21 more lives will be saved. Every single life is precious and if we can save even one more person, it’s a profound achievement. Even in routine cases, we must treat the ordinary as extraordinary.”

Donors play a major role in funding the equipment our medical teams need to solve complicated cases and save lives. “Simply put, when we have better tools, the care we give patients is better,” says Dr. Fedoruk.  “But in addition to improved care, we are also providing people with enhanced quality of life. We’re not jut extending people’s lives, we can actually make them better. Today, people can stay active well into their nineties. We’re grateful to the donors who help make this possible.”

Diane Ball spent her whole life knowing she was born with a hereditary congenital heart defect – her aortic valve has only two cusps instead of the usual three. Her father passed away from the same condition at just 48 years old. But with two grown children and three beloved grandkids, Diane was determined to live an active life filled with family well into her golden years.

In April 2016, Diane was enjoying a Hawaiian cruise when she suffered a mild stroke. But against the advice of onboard doctors, she stayed on for the rest of the voyage. Her decision to stay was part of her philosophy of living life to the fullest. She felt ok, and didn’t want to cut short her holiday. Upon Diane’s return to Victoria, an echocardiogram revealed her heart function had significantly declined. Once-simple activities, like walking to get the mail or going to the pool for a swim, had become challenging. Diane’s aortic valve needed to be replaced, which required open-heart surgery at Royal Jubilee Hospital.

“Dr. Fedoruk and her team gave me my life back,” said Diane. “I’m 66 years old. Without this surgery, I would not have lived for more than another year. The care I received was absolutely amazing, and my family and I are immensely grateful for the life-changing care I received. When Dr. Fedoruk fixed my heart valve, she liberated me.”

Diane is back to doing everything she loves and couldn’t be happier, thanks to the skilled and dedicated cardiac teams who do everything in their power to return people to wellness.

Every year, more than 200,000 people on Vancouver Island receive a cardiac assessment at one of our of our Island hospitals, and over 6,300 cardiac procedures are performed on men and women of all ages. While many attest to the uncertainty and hardship that accompany the news of a cardiac condition, patients take comfort in knowing they have access to a world-class cardiac program. Through our Campaign for Cardiac Care, In a Heartbeat: Everyday Miracles, we aim to raise $3.2 million to fund 34 pieces of leading–edge equipment in seven different areas of cardiac care.

Iain McCaig's Story

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“A life well-lived is perhaps the greatest art of all.”

—Iain McCaig

Iain McCaig is a renowned artist and storyteller. Known in eons past for a certain Jethro Tull album cover, these days he is responsible for helping create movie icons like Darth Maul, Rocket Raccoon, Groot, the Hulk, Mad Eyed Moody, Mowgli and more. Yet he always returns to his beloved Victoria for inspiration: the place where he first found a crayon and a flat surface and began to draw.

“I remember every drawing,” Iain says, “but one is especially vivid. It was a robot, and I was drawing it for Tom Hanks. Tom Hanks didn’t know this yet, because he hadn’t signed to do the movie, but the producer was hopeful, and I was happy to oblige. It was last March, three days after my 60th birthday. I never made it to the drawing board.”

On the way to his studio, Iain collapsed.  A pain in his chest knocked him flat and got worse. It was all he could do to crawl to the phone and dial 911. “I’ve never cared for the sound of sirens,” he said, “but just then they sounded like a band of Guardian Angels screaming to the rescue.”

He was rushed to Royal Jubilee Hospital where an electrocardiogram (ECG) confirmed what the doctors already knew. Iain was in the midst of a major heart attack. The vague yet persistent symptoms he had been ignoring during his morning runs and work-outs — slight pain and shortness of breath — were not the foreshadows of old age. "When you are seemingly healthy, fit, and active, not to mention unstoppably optimistic,” Iain says, “it’s easy to speed past the warning signs.”

The ECG results made it clear to the cardiac team that the cause of Iain’s heart attack was a blocked artery. He was rushed upstairs where cardiologists in the Heart Catheterization Laboratory used a C-arm to insert a balloon and stent to unblock the artery. The angioplasty procedure stopped the heart attack instantly by opening the artery and allowing blood flow to return to normal. And because Iain had reached the hospital and received rapid diagnosis and treatment, there was no lasting damage to his heart.

Cardiologist Dr. Peter Gladstone explains how timely treatment makes all the difference to people experiencing a heart attack. “The number one factor in the success of angioplasty is how quickly we are able to perform it. If a heart attack patient receives the procedure within two hours of the onset of severe pain, there is typically no lasting damage to the heart muscle. The sophisticated tools in the Heart Catheterization Laboratory allow us to stop heart attacks in progress.”

When Iain woke up in the Patient Care Centre the morning after his heart attack, the first thing he asked the Nurse for was a pencil and paper. “And then I drew my producer friend his robot.” He then proceeded to give the staff sketches and art classes and added dinosaurs to his vital statistics white board. Dr. Gladstone let him go home before he started drawing on the walls.

Now home in his studio, Iain looks back on the event with an even brighter gleam in his eyes. “The epiphany was coming home and realizing that all the undone things—the stories I’ve wanted to tell and the pictures waiting to be drawn and everything else I’ve been meaning to get around to—all that vanishes with me when I go. So whatever it is you really want to do in life, do it now. This is not a dress rehearsal.” With a smile, he adds, “And watch those warning signs.  A life well-lived is perhaps the greatest art of all.”

“It’s imperative for people to check their risk factors with their doctors,” says Dr. Gladstone. “In Iain’s case, even though he led an exceptionally healthy lifestyle, he had undiagnosed elevated cholesterol which led to the blockage in his artery.”

When our hospitals have the expert teams and leading-edge tools they need to save people, potentially tragic stories become triumphant tales of survival. “A positive outcome for our patients is the ultimate goal, and having state-of-the-art equipment truly matters. Equipping our cardiac teams with the precise and sophisticated tools they need to provide the utmost in care makes all the difference in people’s lives,” says Dr. Gladstone.

Every year, more than 200,000 people on Vancouver Island receive a cardiac assessment at one of our Island hospitals, and over 6,300 cardiac procedures are performed on men and women of all ages. While many attest to the uncertainty and hardship that accompany the news of a cardiac condition, patients take comfort in knowing they have access to a world-class cardiac program. Through our Campaign for Cardiac Care, In a Heartbeat: Everyday Miracles, we aim to fund 34 pieces of leading-edge equipment in seven different areas of cardiac care by raising $3.2 million dollars.

Postscript: The science fiction film Bios is currently scheduled to begin filming in 2018.  It will star Tom Hanks. And a robot.

Howie Meeker: Living life to the fullest

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In 1939, 16-year-old Howard “Howie” Meeker was denied entry into the Canadian Air Force on the premise he had an unhealthy heart. No one told him what the issue was, only that his heart could not endure the physical strain of the job.

This did not stop Howie from living life to its fullest. A self-taught hockey player, he continued to skate on ponds and rivers for hours each day, and eventually became a star player for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He was 23 when he received the Calder Trophy, NHL’s top rookie honours.

Over his lifetime, Howie went on to win four Stanley Cups, a seat as Member of Parliament for Waterloo South, distinguished titles such as NHL Head Coach and General Manager, and thousands of Canadian hearts as one of the country’s favourite hockey commentators. He retired in Parksville and was inducted into the Order of Canada in 2010 as recognition for his exceptional contributions to our country.

A few years later, Howie’s life was put on hold when he was given six months to live. His doctors had detected a heart murmur and diagnosed him with aortic stenosis, a condition that makes the heart work harder to pump blood due to calcium deposits in the valves. Unfortunately, medication could not reverse the damage. The usual treatment of open heart valve surgery was not an option for Howie as his age classified him as high-risk.

Thankfully for Howie, he was referred to Dr. Anthony Della Siega at Royal Jubilee Hospital.

As an interventional cardiologist, Dr. Della Siega treats the heart through minimallyinvasive procedures. An early adopter of leading-edge cardiac treatments, Dr. Della Siega chose to work at Royal Jubilee Hospital after learning of its world-renowned Heart Health program.

After specialized cardiac testing, Dr. Della Siega knew he could give Howie a better and longer life through transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI).

Performed in the heart catheterization laboratory at Royal Jubilee Hospital, the TAVI procedure is revolutionary.

It allows cardiologists like Dr. Della Siega to access the heart through a small incision in the patient’s leg and thread a catheter lightly through the artery until it reaches the diseased valve. To guide this meticulous task without perforating the artery, the team constantly monitors real-time images being taken by a C-arm, a piece of equipment that rotates around a patient’s body to capture the movement of the catheter. When the catheter is stable, a new biological valve is inserted through it.

Immediately following the procedure, Howie’s heart started working normally again. He was up and walking the very next day, feeling lighter and stronger. “What a feeling!” he remembers.

Four years later, Howie is alive and well. “I have never felt as good as I have since the TAVI and I cannot thank Dr. Della Siega and the entire Heart Health team enough for their compassion and remarkable care.”

Howie’s story is just one of many. Every year, the Heart Health team assesses over 200,000 patients on Vancouver Island and perform over 6,300 cardiac procedures. To do their best work, they need the best equipment possible.

To help our cardiac team continue to provide leading-edge care, the Victoria Hospitals Foundation has launched a $3.2 million campaign to fund 34 pieces of equipment at Royal Jubilee and Victoria General hospitals.

One of these pieces of equipment is a new heart catheterization laboratory C-arm that will replace a 10-year-old machine.  A gift toward this campaign will help give Dr. Della Siega and the Heart Health team the equipment they need to provide the very best care.

“The new C-arm is essential to our work,” says Dr. Della Siega. “The fact that we can replace a faulty valve in under an hour without having to put patients through surgery is incredible. After insertion, the new biomedical valve works within seconds of placement and allows blood to immediately flow throughout the body.”

The new C-arm will also be used in other important interventional procedures, including angioplasties and pacemaker insertions.

“The C-arm truly was critical in allowing me to do Howie’s procedure. I couldn’t have saved his life without it.”

 

How local Canadian Tire stores are fixing hearts

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Canadian Tire has the tools needed to fix just about anything, from leaky pipes in your kitchen to squeaky brakes in your car. But as cardiac patients at Royal Jubilee Hospital know, cars and kitchens aren’t our only possessions that sometimes require fixing.

Every December, local Canadian Tire stores organize the annual Fix-A-Heart campaign to help purchase urgently needed cardiac equipment for Royal Jubilee Hospital (RJH). Customers are asked to donate at the till and Canadian Tire stores match every gift. Now entering its fifteenth year, Fix-A-Heart has raised more than $740,000 for cardiac care on Vancouver Island.

This incredible campaign began in December 2003. At its onset, Peter Spillette, former owner of Langford’s Canadian Tire store, believed outstanding cardiac care was something we should all support. In partnership with the Victoria Hospitals Foundation, Peter launched Fix-A-Heart and soon convinced other local stores to join the cause.

When he passed away in 2008, Dave Ullathorne from the Douglas Street location stepped up as the new campaign coordinator. By that time, Fix-A-heart had already raised $300,000 and showed no signs of slowing down.

“Dave, and before him Peter, would provide us with weekly updates and challenge us to meet those goals or exceed those goals,” said Kim Reynhoudt, Associate Dealer for Canadian Tire View Royal. “If one year we were planning to raise $50,000, we would make sure we were on track to meet or beat that target. I would say most years we certainly beat the target.”

“The employees are the people who make this work,” said Dave Ullathorne, who recently retired after eight years spearheading Fix-A-Heart. “From the managers who rally the staff, to the office staff that tally who has raised the most, to all the cashiers who ask the customers for their donation. It is a team effort.”

RJH is the Heart Health referral centre for all 785,000 residents of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Island communities. The Heart Health team relies on the generosity of community donors to help keep Royal Jubilee on the leading edge of patient care.

“When our caregivers have access to the absolute best medical tools, it greatly improves the quality of care cardiac patients receive,” said Bruce Dyck, Board Chair for the Victoria Hospitals Foundation. “The level of success and longevity achieved by the Fix-A-Heart campaign is absolutely incredible and it makes a big difference for our medical teams and patients knowing they have the full support of our community.”

Over the years, Fix-A-Heart has funded a variety of important medical tools, including ECG machines that diagnose heart arrhythmias, transport monitors that help patients move safely between units and cardiac treadmills that provide non-invasive stress testing for heart health patients.

For this year’s campaign, customers can donate at the till from now until December 24 at the Hillside, View Royal and Royal Oak stores, and the Gordon Head automotive centre. The stores will match any customer donation to help fund a new state-of-the-art heart catheterization C-arm at Royal Jubilee Hospital.

The C-arm is used for a variety of important cardiac diagnoses and procedures. The C-arm allows caregivers to:

  • obtain real-time images of a patient’s heart and blood vessels by conducting a diagnostic test called an angiogram. The images show the location and size of any blockage in or near the heart and allow medical teams to determine the best life-saving approach.
  • perform an immediate procedure such as a balloon angioplasty or the insertion of a stent or a new heart valve, again using the real-time images from the C-arm to guide a physician’s meticulous tasks. With these images, doctors can unblock arteries, stop a heart attack or replace a diseased valve in a couple of hours at most.

These life-saving procedures mitigate the need for general anesthetic or open heart surgery and patients go home, in many cases, the same day.

To help fund a C-arm this holiday season, visit the Hillside, View Royal or Royal Oak Canadian Tire store, and the Gordon Head automotive centre. Together, we can fix hearts.

This year’s Fix-A-Heart Campaign supports the Victoria Hospitals Foundation’s fall Campaign for Cardiac Care, In a Heartbeat: EveryDay Miracles, which is raising $3.2 million for priority cardiac equipment at Royal Jubilee Hospital. Visit www.victoriahf.ca/inaheartbeat to learn more.

 

Click on each icon to learn more about the areas of cardiac care we are supporting and the pieces of equipment we are funding.