“Lucky Stars” That Helped Save a Life Are Thanks to You

by Graham Strong - February 21, 2018


Doug Brown feels he is lucky to be alive after having a heart attack. Thanks to the generosity of donors to the Northern Cardiac Fund, he was able to be treated here at home within hours. You can ensure we continue to have world-class cardiovascular services so patients like Doug can have critical, life-saving care here. Donate today at healthsciencesfoundation.ca/cardiac or call 345-4673.

It might be odd to describe anyone who’s having a heart attack as “lucky”, but that was certainly the case for Doug Brown.

“The stars lined up for me that day,” Doug Brown said. “The timing, the resources that were here – everything. A few years earlier, it wouldn’t have been that smooth.”

Founder and President of the Thunder Bay Letter Shop, Doug was loading freshly-printed brochures into his van when realized something wasn’t right.

“The weirdest feeling came over my chest and my face,” Doug said. “It was almost like that tingly fear you get when you suddenly realize you’re supposed to be somewhere. It came on really lightly, but within three minutes, I was getting concerned. I knew something was a lot more serious.”

Are You Having a Heart Attack? Are You Sure?

Time and again, people feel the symptoms of a heart attack but they just don’t realize it. A big part of that reason is because the symptoms can be different for different people. Often, they can be explained away by something else.

Doug Brown knows this all to well.

“There was never any pain,” Doug said. “But prior to my heart attack, in hindsight, I had some symptoms. When I went out for a walk, I would feel a few little spots of pressure in my chest. Other times, I’d feel a little bit of an ache in my arms. I know now that they were warning signs, but at the time I just dismissed it as something that happens as you get older.”

Not everyone has early warning signs of a heart attack. But some do – and it’s not always painful. If you feel strangely tired, out of breath for no real reason, slight bits of pressure, aches in your arms or legs without strenuous exercise, don’t just dismiss them. Talk to your doctor or primary care provider. If it’s an emergency, go to your nearest Emergency Department.

It just may save your life.

Doug’s wife Joleen, who was at the shop that day, rushed Doug to the Emergency Department at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. Doug could feel himself going down fast.

“I could feel the compressions. I was going into a sweat. I said to myself, ‘Better get there quickly.’”

Staff at the desk knew immediately that Doug was having a heart attack and gave him two aspirin before he even had his Health Card out.

Within two hours of his first symptoms, he was rushed to the Cath Lab, Dr. Andrea MacDougall had inserted a stent to open his artery, and he was recovering in the ICU.

“I had a 100% blockage, and I wasn’t aware of it,” Doug said.

What makes Doug so lucky is the fact that we have cardiac services like angioplasty right here in Thunder Bay. Both of his parents had similar procedures years before, but had to be flown out to Hamilton. Thankfully, everything went well for them. But the tragic reality was, not everyone having a heart attack survived the trip.

Travelling hundreds of miles for treatment also makes it much harder on the patients and the family. Having angioplasty here in Thunder Bay has saved lives and reduced the stress of thousands of patients and their families over the years – thanks in large part to our incredible donors. In other words, Doug’s lucky stars are actually thanks to you.

However, some patients still have to be sent to Toronto for certain cardiac procedures. Right now, we are building a new cardiovascular program that will bring more and more of those services to Thunder Bay, so our patients will have to travel less and less for these life-saving procedures.

You can help us celebrate Heart Month this February by making your donation today to the Northern Cardiac Fund. Your generous gift will go directly towards funding local cardiovascular programs so that patients like Doug can get the care they need, right here in Thunder Bay.

You can make your donation online at www.healthsciencesfoundation.ca/cardiac or by calling the Donation Centre at (807) 345-4673. Thank you for giving our patients even more lucky stars!

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