“It doesn’t matter how bad things look – and in my case it was pretty bad – they never ever give up on you.”
When Don Brooks talks about his experience with our Cardiac Care Unit (CCU) at Regina General Hospital (RGH), he can’t help but be unrestrained in his praise of the unit and the staff who work there. If not for them, the farmer and retired agrologist with the provincial government knows he likely wouldn’t be here today.
Don’s story started on February 28, 2016, when he encountered difficulty breathing while at home in east Regina. His wife Diane called an ambulance and Don was rushed to RGH, where he was diagnosed with a pulmonary edema. Essentially, his lungs were filling with fluid as a result of problems with his heart. In fact, his ejection fraction (EF) was down to five per cent, meaning the left ventricle of his heart was pumping out far less blood to the rest of his body than it should.
“They told me that when the EF gets down to single digits, it’s not often that the patient survives,” Don explains. “Thankfully, their quick action – combined with a highly skilled medical team – gave me a chance.”
Our cardiologists needed to insert a couple of stents into Don’s blood vessels that night, to clear up blockages. But that was only the start of his journey. Over the course of the next eight months, he suffered two more pulmonary edema episodes, requiring the insertion of more stents, and a pacemaker to regulate his heartbeat.
“I have to say, everyone at the CCU did a fantastic job throughout the process,” Don said. “I owe them everything. Thanks to them, I was able to celebrate my 65th birthday (Feb. 2022) with my 93-year-old dad and other family members. That’s a gift I’ll never be able to repay.”
Nevertheless, Don is doing his best to give back by supporting fundraising efforts for our CCU through Hospitals of Regina Foundation, including taking part in the Cardiac Care 5k walk/run, organized every year by the CCU nursing team.
“Don’s story is an important reminder of how fortunate we are to have the CCU and Mosaic Heart Centre in our community,” says Lisa Green, senior vice-president, , Hospitals of Regina Foundation. “With the help of our donors, we are committed to supporting excellent cardiac care by investing in the best technology and equipment available so our cardiac teams can help people like Don live better lives.”