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Heart attacks can happen to anybody

Ray Mastalier

On a chilly January night in Regina, Ray Mastalier woke up hungry. After he ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, Ray let the dog outside. But when he opened the back door, an alarming feeling hit him like the icy, Saskatchewan-winter wind. Ray felt uneasy. His skin was sweaty and clammy. Soon, stabbing pain flared in his right shoulder. Ray was having a heart attack.

For 18 years, Ray travelled western Canada as a pipeline manager. But changes in work opportunities brought him back to his home province of Saskatchewan. In January 2009, Ray was in North Dakota rebuilding natural gas power turbines for a power company. His routine of 16 to 18 hour work days and sporadic meals didn’t seem or feel stressful then. Less than two days later, Ray suffered his heart attack, that chilly night in Regina.

At the Regina General Hospital (RGH), Ray was whisked to the catheterization lab—a lab used to perform cardiac procedures in the Mosaic Heart Centre. Doctors performed a coronary angiogram and inserted stents into his arteries. After his heart attack, Ray changed his lifestyle by exercising, eating right, and quitting smoking.

I’m good for 100,000 more miles,he jokes.

Such an important area in the Mosaic Heart Centre, the catheterization lab processes more than 3,000 patients each year. By investing in cardiac care, the Foundation helps ensure patients access excellent services they require. Because of Regina’s leading cardiac services, Ray calls his visit to the catheterization lab an outstanding success.
 
Health-care staff motivated Ray to recover and made him smile and laugh. He praises their amazing technical skills, saying what doctors did with the advanced cardiac technology was a miracle—technology made possible by donors. In this, Ray saw the Foundation’s role and its impact go beyond investing in medical technology. “The better technology you got, more talent will come work for you,” explains Ray.

Now retired, Ray admits stress triggered his heart attack.

You really think back and think a lot about it. The stuff you did when you were working, you don’t know how you ever did it.” Ray adds, “I ask people, ‘What side of the grass are you on?’ If they are on the up side of the grass, that’s a great start.Twelve years ago, Ray started his golf tournament, Pipeline of Dreams. Over time, the tournament has raised $700,000, but Ray hopes to reach his overall goal of $1 million. He sees it as a way to give back to Regina’s hospitals for the care he received. “If it wasn’t for the Foundation and fundraising events like Pipeline of Dreams, where would we be?” People of southern Saskatchewan would have outdated cardiac technology in Regina’s hospitals. Yearly, more than 380 people in southern Saskatchewan receive open heart surgery.
 
“Ray’s success story is a prime example of why improving technology in cardiac care is critical to provide the best possible cardiac services for all who need it,” says Dino Sophocleous, president and CEO, Hospitals of Regina Foundation. “But Ray is also an example of the generosity this community gives to take care of their own. Together, we all help the Foundation’s commitment to making better lives.”
 
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