Little did Dave Harron know his decision to accompany his wife Wanda to an exercise class on November 10, 2016 would change his life forever. A few minutes into the class, Dave started feeling short of breath. Moments later, he fainted. A follow-up diagnostic test detected a heart murmur, and Dave was referred to Regina for further testing, including an ultrasound. That test (in early December) revealed aortic stenosis, a narrowing of the aortic valve.
“I was told that valve replacement surgery was the next step,” Dave said. “I was booked in for surgery at the General Hospital on January 25 of 2017."
I have to admit I was a little worried, but I also knew I was in great hands with the medical team at the Mosaic Heart Centre. The surgery went as scheduled, and I woke up afterwards thinking it was the next day. It was actually a week later, because of the complications.
The initial surgery took longer than expected but was relatively smooth sailing. However, internal bleeding developed as Dave’s blood would not clot.
"I was advised to call family members to the hospital at that point,” Wanda explained. “They even brought in a priest to administer last rites. Needless to say, I was terrified. But I was also confident that Dave would pull through. After all, he had an outstanding team of doctors and nurses and great technology on his side. I learned afterwards the General Hospital’s cardiac care unit is considered one of the best in Canada. Dave is living proof of that!"
Dave was discharged from the hospital on February 25, 2017 – a month after his valve replacement surgery. During that time, he was in surgery twice more to stem the internal bleeding, was put on dialysis temporarily, and was given more than 30 units of blood products. He spent the first two weeks in Intensive Care before being transferred to the Cardiac Surveillance Unit and then the Cardiology Unit (3F).
When I woke up, I learned I had been in an induced coma,” Dave said. “The chaplain told me it was a miracle I was alive. That was a shock, obviously. I’m very grateful to everyone who played a role in my recovery. That’s why I want to show my appreciation by giving back. Dave, Wanda and their son Kyle did just that by participating in this year’s Cardiac Care 5k Walk/Run, in support of Hospitals of Regina Foundation. Dave was the top individual fundraiser, collecting $4,100 in pledges.
“We’re just so thankful for the outstanding care we received,” Wanda said. “From pre-op right until he was discharged, everyone was excellent. Dave has been back to 3F a couple of times due to bacterial infections. When he was discharged the last time (in March 2018), one of the staff joked they’ll give Dave a punch card if he’s admitted again!”
Every year, more than 350 open heart surgeries are performed at Regina’s Mosaic Heart Centre,said Dino Sophocleous, president and CEO, Hospitals of Regina Foundation. "Thanks to the generous support of our donors, the Foundation is proud to invest in world-class cardiac care for people in southern Saskatchewan, right here at home."
To learn more about the outstanding cardiac care available in Regina's hospitals, click here to watch a short video.
Dave's story appears in our 2018 Annual Report. Watch for it here after May 1, 2019.