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Meet Brad. Brad was born with a congenital heart defect, Transposition of the Great Vessels, and had his first surgery at 11 days old at the University of Alberta Hospital. At five years old, he had the Mustard procedure at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. Not only did he live, he thrived and didn’t have any serious issues until his mid-thirties.
Brad was 34 years old when he experienced his first major cardiac issue. He went into the hospital where they worked some cardiac magic, and he was prescribed a new cocktail of drugs. Brad was well for a long time after and continued to work just as hard and passionately as ever. But the past 10 years have seen him in the hospital a little more often. Through his amazing tenacity, and great work at the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute, Brad has bounced back each time.
Cut to 2019, Brad was living with a heart that was overhauled 47 years ago. It was tired and in late stage failure. He needed a transplant but was told that he was unable to get one. If he was to receive a healthy heart by transplant, his body wouldn’t know what to do with it. Over the years his organs have adjusted to his less than perfect heart, and have adapted. A new heart would be like putting a Ferrari engine into a 1966 Skoda.
This is where his story gets really cool. Through the genius of the amazing doctors and medical team at the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute, on January 18, 2019 Brad was fit with a Ventricular Assist Device (VAD). The VAD will re-train his organs and get him ready for transplant. These last six months, Brad has spent over 100 days in the Mazankowski recuperating from this intense surgery and multiple complications. But, he is alive and well! Now, Brad has more energy than he has ever had. I guess you don’t know how sick you are until you feel better. With a new heart he will even get better.
It is because of the skilled team at the Mazankowski that Brad is alive. The VAD program at the Mazankowski is the largest VAD program in the country. The program does approximately 30 VAD surgeries per year and would like to do more. VADs are not only for people with congenital heart defects but primarily for people who have had a significant cardiac event and can’t be helped by the many other programs at the MAZ, including pacemakers, valve replacements etc. We all know someone who will have or has had a cardiac event. Some of these people didn’t or won’t make it. With a VAD, many more will.
Brad’s family is eternally grateful that they live where they live, have the friends that they have, and were born into such supportive families. They know they are far more fortunate than most.
To show your support, please consider making a donation to the University Hospital Foundation. Your gift will go directly towards the VAD Program at the Maz.