« In my opinion, the skills of the health care team, the organization and their human centric approach are what make them so unique. »
While waiting for my new heart, I visit the Institute every month for routine tests in preparation for my transplant. My experience at the Montreal Heart Institute makes me feel like I’m in good hands. I can see that the physicians, along with the rest of the health care staff, embrace a pedagogical and holistic approach. They take the time to explain what is happening to us and make sure to find out more about the patient’s life, such as their environment and dietary habits, in order to fully assess their needs. In terms of logistics, the Institute is an outstanding model of teamwork and efficiency. But above all else, it’s the human factor that makes the Institute stand out. As a patient, I don’t feel like a number. I feel like the staff is aware that each of our situations is unique. They are full of empathy and consideration and they are always willing to listen to us. That allows patients to remain brave and keep their dignity during difficult times.
Julie du Page
« Supported by the very best specialists, I knew that, to a certain extent, nothing could happen to me. »
“Throughout the surgery and follow-up visits, I was reassured.”
After her second pregnancy, Julie du Page developed a cardiac abnormality called extrasystoles. While the condition was not life-threatening, it significantly affected her quality of life. She couldn’t sleep. When her head hit the pillow, all she could hear was the irregular rhythm of her heartbeat. It was awful. “Apparently, the rhythm disorder I was suffering from is fairly common in tall, thin people. For years, I was told that I was complaining about nothing, and the impact the symptoms were having on my life were minimized,” explains the host and actress. One evening, certain she was suffering a heart attack, she went to the emergency room. Transferred from one facility to another, arrhythmia was finally confirmed as the cause of her discomfort. “All kinds of possibilities were being discussed, including sudden death, but no one was doing anything about it,” says the effervescent mother of two.
The Montreal Heart Institute steps in
Sick with fear and feeling as though she was on her own, Julie decided to take control of her destiny. That’s when she went to the Montreal Heart Institute and met with cardiologist Dr. Lena Rivard, whose expertise and reputation are second to none. “The first time I met Dr. Rivard,” explains du Page, “She put me at ease. She was sympathetic to what I was experiencing, and it was the first time I didn’t feel as though I was a bother, or simply a number.”
A surgery that changed everything
At 38 years old, Julie du Page had an arrhythmic area removed from her right ventricle. Since then, she’s had a new lease on life. “It has been seven years since the operation, and all is well. I have regular follow-ups and there has been no indication that the disease is coming back. I’ve even started to have restorative sleep again,” she says.
After her time at the Montreal Heart Institute, one word sticks in her mind: reassurance.
« For me, the Institute is synonymous with happiness — the kind that comes from being on the road to healing, and from being well-treated and listened to. »
The first time he set foot in the Montreal Heart Institute, Sylvain Bédard was 13 years old. That was in 1980. He had just lost his older sister, who died of a heart attack while jogging. Her premature death prompted the Institute’s specialists to screen all family members.
Nearly 40 years later, he still remembers his first visit. Everything the health care team said and did that day represented a promise: that they would watch over him.
A heart transplant, his only choice
At 33, Bédard was diagnosed with a genetic heart disease called cardiomyopathy. He was left with no choice but to undergo a heart transplant. His stay at the Montreal Heart Institute would end up being the first of many.
“I’m not your average patient at the Institute,” explains Sylvain Bédard. “I’ve been involved in many firsts, anf for me, it is part of risk management. By participating in new protocols, I help to give hope.” And hope is certainly what he needed when he had his second heart transplant last December. Today, he is full of praise for the staff and cutting-edge care provided at the Montreal Heart Institute.
The joy of giving back to the Foundation
A vector of change and very aware of how lucky he is, he gives back by getting involved in various committees at the Institute. One of these, currently looking at ways of humanizing care and developing better patient/physician relationships, has noted that “cardiovascular health depends first and foremost on our personal commitment. To get through it, you have to give up on the idea that a magic pill will fix everything. You have to take steps yourself, and listen to your body.”
« I knew I wanted to contribute to the advancement of science, so that future generations could benefit from even more advanced care. »
Ten years ago, Jean Boisvert suffered a heart attack. However, thanks to a simple angioplasty, a minimally invasive procedure, he was able to go back to his daily life and his loved ones. Following his surgery, Boisvert was referred to the EPIC Centre at the Montreal Heart Institute, the largest prevention and rehabilitation centre in Canada, which helped him to regain his former health.
“20 years ago, my uncle had to have bypass surgery, a much more invasive procedure than mine. Sadly, 20 years before that, my grandfather died from cardiovascular disease. During my recovery and rehabilitation, I thought of them and realized the full extent of the advances made thanks to research,” Boisvert explains.
The pleasure of paying it forward
Grateful for the care he received at the Institute, Boisvert wanted to pay it forward. “When my turn came, I knew I wanted to contribute to the advancement of science, so that future generations could benefit from even more advanced care and treatment. For this reason, I would like for my gift to be entirely devoted to research,” concludes the generous donor.
« I always felt I could trust the Institute. I was incredibly lucky to have had access to that type of care. »
France is a born athlete. As far back as she can remember, she has always enjoyed moving and playing many sports, some even at competitive levels.
At age 51, in great physical condition, France started running. “I had my mind set on running three races in a single weekend at Walt Disney World.” However, in 2016, after a difficult race on a very hot day, she began to feel palpitations. Time passed and the palpitations came and went, but France never thought much of it.
“My heart wasn’t racing at 100 beats per minute, so I put off seeing a doctor,” she concedes. But the situation didn’t get better, and ended up at the hospital. She received the diagnosis: she had Wolf Parkinson White Syndrome, a congenital disease that causes arrhythmia. She was in shock. Although her doctors gave her permission to resume her normal activities, France, worried, took the necessary steps to turn things around.
The Montreal Heart Institute steps in
In May 2017, after more than three hours on the operating table at the Montreal Heart Institute, France’s heart received a clean bill of health. “I always felt I could trust the Institute,” she asserts, now back in top physical shape. “I was incredibly lucky to have had access to that type of care.” Six months later, she finally ran her first marathon at Walt Disney World, after running 5, 10 and 21 kilometres the previous three days. “I can never thank the Institute’s team enough, because thanks to them, I was able to achieve what I call the Dopey Challenge,” she concludes.
« I was extremely impressed by the staff’s efficiency and the fluidity of communications between everyone involved. »
Heart disease doesn’t discriminate. Regardless of age or lifestyle, no one is immune. Not even an extreme sports enthusiast like Jean-Philippe Veillet.
Though statistically, the greatest threat to his health was most likely to be a sports-related accident, it ended up being his heart that caused the most concern. An irregular heartbeat, discomfort and respiratory difficulty raised a red flag and prompted him to consult the Institute’s professionals.
Veillet was quickly given an appointment and put through a series of tests. “I was extremely impressed by the staff’s efficiency and the fluidity of communications between everyone involved,” he explains.
A reassuring diagnosis
Aware that diagnoses and prognoses are often accompanied by fear and misunderstanding, the Institute’s specialists use a model of care that puts the individual at the centre. “The staff’s warmth and the quality of the care provided overwhelmed and reassured me,” Veillet continues.
After investigation, Dr. Tadros discovered that Jean-Philippe’s heart problem was minor. “With the right treatment, my symptoms disappeared very quickly. And with regular follow-ups, I now confident that I am out of danger,” he concludes, having regained a healthy and active life.
« I support the cause, particularly by communicating with young people about the importance of a healthy lifestyle. »
After several people close to him were treated at the Institute, it seemed only natural for Jean-Philippe Joyal to get involved with the Foundation. His goal is to raise more awareness about one of the top cardiology centres in the world, where patient care and the prevention of heart disease are the very highest priority. As co-chair of the Emerging Leaders Committee, Jean-Philippe supports the cause, particularly by communicating with young people about the importance of a healthy lifestyle.
“Unfortunately, heart disease affects everyone, directly or indirectly. The more informed people are about the risk factors for cardiovascular disease, the more likely they’ll be to make smart choices in their everyday lives.”
The HeartBeat event is a golden opportunity for young professionals to network. This event is important because, according to Jean-Philippe, not only does it expose attendees to the cause of heart disease, it also raises funds to bring the Institute’s priority projects to life.
« People come from all over to receive care and to learn from our incredible discoveries. »
Marie-Claude has been involved in the Emerging Leaders Committee since 2016. Ensuring the future of philanthropy is important to her. Her slogan? Make a difference! And that’s just what she’s doing by supporting a foundation like ours.
Among the many worthy causes she could have supported, she chose to invest her time to further the cause of heart disease, and believes strongly in the Institute’s projects and in its future. She’s proud of the place the Institute plays on the world stage as one of the three largest cardiac centres in the world.
“People come from all over to receive care and to learn from our incredible discoveries.”
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the world, which makes it more important than ever to support this cause that touches us all, whether directly or indirectly.
« By working together, we can make a real difference. »
Patrick Fouquette joined the Emerging Leaders Committee of the Montreal Heart Institute because he is a firm believer in our foundation’s mission. He is proud to be involved and to lend his support, and all the prouder knowing that the Institute is one of the top centres for research and care in the field of cardiovascular medicine.
He hopes to help provide the Institute with the means to treat cardiovascular health problems, to build a better society for the future.
“By working together, we can make a real difference.”
He believes that getting involved with philanthropy is an important way for young people to help their fellow man. It’s the perfect opportunity to give to a cause that impacts so many families.
« I continue to be amazed by the Institute’s innovative, leading-edge equipment. »
Jasmin was born with tetralogy of Fallot, a triple cardiac malformation. At the age of six, when his condition was considered to be the most serious, he underwent surgery to correct two of the malformations, but a pulmonary valve was still missing. As a result, he will have to undergo yet another open heart surgery within the next two years at the Montreal Heart Institute, where he has been followed annually for the past ten years for MRIs and stress tests. Feeling well-supported and in good hands, he doesn’t hesitate to praise the excellence of care he receives and the swift actions of his medical team. He continues to be amazed by the Institute’s innovative, leading-edge equipment. At each visit, he sees how quickly things change and advance, and the extent to which the technology changes patients’ lives for the better.
Jasmin feels incredibly fortunate to be able to live without limitations. He got involved with the Emerging Leaders Committee of the Montreal Heart Institute to raise awareness among his peers about the risks of cardiovascular disease.