Sara’s Story: I had a 99% chance of not being here

Sara is just one of thousands of patients on Vancouver Island who require vital blood tests to monitor their status, sometimes as often as every 30 minutes. You can help ensure these urgent requests are processed as fast and as accurately as possible by helping fund a new Automated Chemistry Line.

On the night of November 11, 2021, I put my six-year-old daughter to bed like I always do—but the hard part is that I don’t remember saying goodnight to her. I felt really tired and decided to go to sleep.

Then I woke up at 3:45 in the morning with a terrible headache, and I collapsed.

My husband Matt called an ambulance and I was transported to Victoria General Hospital. A nurse took him to the family room and gently told him, “I’m so sorry. Your wife has had a catastrophic brain hemorrhage and she’s not likely to make it. You need to start making some phone calls.”

As I was being prepped for brain surgery, my physician said that I had a 1% chance of survival—and even if I did survive, I was going to be in the hospital for six months, learning how to walk and talk again. They were unsure how much function I would regain. It was devastating news for my family.

Thankfully, I had an incredible surgeon, and she got me through the surgery, reporting afterwards that she was confident she got all of the blood out of my brain. It was a miracle.

After the surgery, I continued to get better and better. And the nurses were wonderful. They pushed me and challenged me through my recovery, and it was exactly what I needed. Incredibly, I was talking immediately and walking within a couple of days. About three and a half weeks later, I was able to go home.

Today, I am grateful to be part of a community that cares about healthcare. If it could happen to me, it can happen to anyone. If we want the healthcare that is going to save us, our community has to step up to advance the care we all rely on.

I had a 99% chance of not being here, and that changes you. Every morning when I wake up, it’s a gift. There aren’t words to describe it. When I came home from the hospital and saw my daughter, it was just unbelievable to know that I was there holding her. I kept saying, “Mommy’s okay.” I can’t believe that I’m here and I get to experience life with her again. The care I received truly gave me a second chance.

—Sara Brownlee
Grateful patient, Victoria resident, mother, wife

Sara recovering after brain surgery

Sara with her daughter after her hospital stay