Angioplasty – Saving a Life: From 30 days to 30 seconds

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Mornings are the most dangerous for your heart. Cardiac care research continues

Mornings are the most dangerous for your heart. Cardiac care research continuesTHUNDER BAY – HEALTH – The thing about heart attacks is that they affect everyone, not just the patient. Nobody knows that better than the Andrews family. When Tom Andrews had his first heart attack in 2000, his wife Beth was frantic as he was rushed to McKellar Hospital.

“I can honestly say it was the most frightening experience I’ve been through,” Beth said.

What made it worse was having to leave town for care – and waiting a month to do it. The cardiac team there quickly got him stabilized. But we didn’t have angioplasty services in Thunder Bay back then, so he had to be flown out to Toronto.

“They explained to us that there were actually people sicker than Tom, if you can imagine,” Beth said. Tom ended up spending 30 days at McKellar before being flown out. “I’m sure he woke up each morning, wondering if he would get the angioplasty he needed or if maybe that day would be his last.”

He finally had his angioplasty and a stent put in at Toronto General Hospital. Since then, Dr. Chris Lai has closely monitored Tom. He had a few scares, but it was always something minor. Always, that is, until 2013. During a routine checkup, doctors found a problem and Tom needed another angioplasty immediately.

“All the emotions I had felt 13 years before flooded back,” Beth said, who was at work when she found out. “I told the nurse I’d be right there – I wanted to see Tom before he went in. But she said, ‘Oh, he is just going in now so no need to rush.’ I wasn’t sure what to feel. I was a little panicked that I couldn’t see him, but at the same time I felt overjoyed that we had gone from waiting 30 days for angioplasty to waiting 30 seconds. It was like going from the Flintstones to the Jetsons in just over a decade.”

Beth arrived at the Health Sciences Centre shortly before Tom got out of the Cath Lab from his procedure. This time, Tom stayed just one night and was home the next day. And they didn’t have to travel anywhere.

“Can you begin to imagine what a difference having angioplasty here in Thunder Bay meant to our lives?” Beth asked.

In fact, our local Angioplasty Program has helped improve the lives of thousands of patients and their families. But now the program needs our help. During angioplasty, doctors use what is called a C-arm fluoroscope, an X-ray machine that allows them to see their way through the arteries to the blockage.

Our first C-arm fluoroscope has been in use almost every day for nine years and is starting to wear out. You can help us raise the necessary $1.4 million to purchase a new and improved unit.

How’s our new C-arm different?

  • 3D images, which will give doctors a better picture
  • low-doses of X-rays needed to get pictures without sacrificing image quality

Please help us meet fund the new C-arm for the sake of you, your family and everyone in Northwestern Ontario. Beth, Tom, and their family know firsthand how important it is to have angioplasty services right here in Thunder Bay. The difference between 30 days to treatment and 30 seconds can be a lifetime. You can ensure we will always have angioplasty services here when we need them.

To make your donation, please call us at (807) 345-4673 or donate online at

Cardio appeal

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you!