A Christmas Eve Miracle

Having life-or-death heart surgery on Christmas Eve is something I never could have imagined happening to me.

I was a healthy, active 67-year-old. I loved skating, skiing, cycling, going for long walks, you name it. Then it all came crashing down.

I’d been singing in a church concert a few days before Christmas, then woke up the next morning feeling really ill. Things quickly escalated to the point where I was seeing double and having trouble breathing. Once my partner got me to my community hospital, my blood pressure was extremely low. My heart’s mitral valve was failing, and the doctors knew they weren’t equipped to deal with that so they sent me right away to St. Michael’s Hospital. I needed a heart specialist — and St. Mike’s was the best place for me.

It was all so unbelievable. One day I was singing at church and a few days later I was on life support with a failing heart. I can’t even imagine how unnerving the whole thing was for my family.

I’m not trying to scare you with my story, but I was a pretty fit guy — and if it can happen to me, it can happen to you or someone you love.

It’s why I’m writing today, to ask that you make a gift this Christmas to help St. Michael’s keep up with the latest life-saving treatments, equipment and research to help patients like me when we need it most.

With Christmas just around the corner, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I went through. And I’ve learned so much since that terrible day.

I’ve learned that heart disease is one of the deadliest killers in the world, and that someone in Canada dies every seven minutes from heart disease or stroke. I’ve learned that heart problems cost the Canadian economy more than $20 billion a year. And I’ve learned how critical it is that we all support leading-edge research. When you support research, the St. Michael’s team can translate that into even better, more compassionate patient care. That’s what they did for me: a three-hour open-heart surgery on Christmas Eve that saved my life.

My partner likes to call my surgery a Christmas miracle — and “thank you” just doesn’t sum up what we owe to St. Mike’s.

On Christmas Eve, the amazing team at St. Michael’s saved my life by performing open-heart surgery. In the spirit of the season, please give today so that other people like me get the life-saving care they need. — Don Deathe, grateful patient

When you make a holiday gift to support this incredible hospital, you’ll be helping researchers solve unanswered questions about heart disease and other life-threatening conditions.

One of the most astounding research programs under way right now is CardioLink Canada, the first program of its kind worldwide to focus on clinical trials in heart and vascular surgery. St. Michael’s team of world-class leaders will spearhead a national group that will positively impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of patients who undergo or potentially need heart or vascular surgery. This mission resonated with me as a perfect example of the ongoing innovation taking place at St. Michael’s – significant work that is truly worthy of our support.

These days, I look back on my Christmas miracle with a mixture of gratitude and awe.

I have to tell you, the level of one-on-one care I received from the doctors, nurses and everyone at St. Mike’s was astonishing. And upon my release from the hospital, I have been doing well, and recovering my strength. You helped give me the greatest Christmas gift of all. I hope my story inspires you to give this Christmas, as generously as you can.

If Don's story inspires you, or if you or a family member experienced great care at St. Michael's Hospital, please make a donation today. Your donation will to help the hospital keep up with the latest life-saving treatments, equipment and research to help patients when they need it most.