Janice Drown was unaware that a night of excruciating pain was related to a serious cardiac complication. Three years later, the grandmother of nine from Hamilton, Ontario is now fully aware of how lucky she is to be alive.
In 2012, Janice began experiencing severe chest pain that kept her awake one night. After seeking medical attention at the nearest hospital, physicians revealed to Janice that she was suffering from an aortic dissection, which is a tear in the wall of the aorta. Janice was immediately rushed to Hamilton General Hospital in an ambulance to receive urgent specialized care. Unfortunately for Janice, CAT scans quickly discovered she had developed an aortic aneurysm, a potentially deadly condition where the aorta becomes so enlarged that there is a high chance it will burst.
“I was so scared. I kept asking why this was happening to me.”
– Janice Drown
Faced with these life-threatening conditions, Janice needed to be monitored by a team of cardiologists under the supervision of Dr. Szalay for several months. Although she was offered a range of treatment options, Janice was skeptical of the outcomes based on the seriousness of her condition.
“One option was to opt-out from undergoing any procedures, but my life expectancy would have dropped to about 15 months,” says Janice. “I could have agreed to traditional surgical operations, but they had a recovery time of about 4-6 months and I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of being torn open.”
Dr. Szalay suggested that Janice was a perfect candidate for new, minimally invasive surgery that would drastically reduce her recovery time to only several weeks. After weighing her options, Janice agreed to the surgery. “The decision was a no brainer for me,” Janice recalls. “Dr. Szalay and his team are all very skilled and I trusted their judgement and capabilities.”
In June 2013, Janice underwent bypass surgery to reroute the blood around the torn section of the aorta into other areas of the heart. Two months later, when the bypass was determined to be a success, a minimally invasive stent was inserted to repair the dissection and the aneurysm. Within weeks, Janice was fully recovered and discharged home with a new lease on life.
“My life is better than ever, and now I live with purpose because Dr. Szalay and the rest of the team at Hamilton General gave me the opportunity to live.”
Hybrid OR Campaign
The Foundation is supporting advanced cardiac and vascular procedures at Hamilton General Hospital through a $3-million redevelopment campaign for the creation of a specialized Hybrid Operating Suite. The Hybrid Suite will integrate imaging technology and surgical equipment to support a multidisciplinary team of experts performing minimally invasive surgeries and traditional open surgeries in one location. It will allow the medical teams to treat patients with the latest combined options and to minimize recovery time, thereby improving patient outcomes.