In March, Robert Young, a volunteer driver with the Red Cross, had a major heart attack while driving a client to a clinic appointment in St. Catharines. The retired farmer, who has for years suffered from asthma, thought initially he might be having an asthma attack.
"I didn’t really know what was happening," says Robert. "I was feeling really bad and was having difficulty breathing."
Unable to pull over and just a few minutes away, Robert continued driving to the clinic, where his situation worsened and staff called an ambulance.
"When the ambulance arrived, they told me I was having a heart attack," he says. "I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t have high cholesterol or smoke or anything like that, it caught me completely off guard."
After a brief stop at his local hospital, Robert was rushed to Hamilton General Hospital – the Regional Centre of Excellence in Cardiac Care.
"I was relieved to hear they were sending me to Hamilton General. My wife had been treated there and I’d driven clients there a number of times, so I knew they had a great cardiac program."
Upon reaching The General, Robert was whisked straight into the Dofasco Heart Investigation Unit. Within minutes, cardiologists removed the blockage and repaired two blocked arteries using a minimally-invasive technique, avoiding the need for major surgery.
"All I remember before going under was a flurry of hands. It was so coordinated, everyone knew what to do. It felt like I was in a science-fiction movie."
After a day recuperating in the Cardiac Care Unit, Robert was discharged from The General and moved back to St. Catharines where he spent two days in hospital under observation.
"I’m very thankful to the staff at Hamilton General," he says. "If it wasn’t for the speed of care, I wouldn’t be here."
Today, Robert has fully recovered and says that, looking back, it’s hard to believe he had a heart attack.
"I feel back to 100%. It’s like it never happened."