Stories of Care - Patients

Reynaldo and Dr. Alsagheir with Rey's artwork
Dr. Alsagheir and Rey with 'Purple Heart'

A Purple Heart for Health Care Heroes

“Those people at Hamilton General, they deserve a medal for all the things that they did for me. I titled the painting Purple Heart, which is a military medal.”
December 11, 2023

Reynaldo ‘Rey’ had been having difficulty breathing for about half a year when he decided it was time to find out what was wrong. Immediately concerned, Rey’s family doctor sent him to do a stress test to see if his shortness of breath had anything to do with his heart health. It did.

The doctors administering the stress test were so troubled, they wouldn’t risk sending Rey home and directed him to his local hospital instead.

“Which was a good thing because that evening I had a heart attack in the hospital,” recounts Rey.

Rey was transferred to Hamilton General Hospital to await bypass surgery.

While spending a week in hospital waiting for surgery is hardly anyone’s first choice of a holiday, Rey has nothing but positive things to say about his stay at The General.

“I was really, really pleased with my treatment,” says Rey. “I felt like I was in a hotel, not a hospital.”

The staff helped to put him at ease when he was nervous – to the point of having grisly nightmares – about having surgery for the first time in his life. His surgeon, Dr. Alsagheir, took a few minutes the morning of the surgery to talk with and reassure Rey. All of these small kindnesses coalesced to calm Rey’s mind and prepare him for the life-saving operation to come.

On June 29,2022, Dr. Alsagheir and a capable team of doctors and nurses, performed a successful quadruple bypass surgery on Rey’s heart.

In the wake of his successful surgery and his subsequent strides toward recovery, Rey found himself compelled to express his profound gratitude in a tangible and enduring manner: with his art.

“I have always been doodling,” says Rey, describing the early origins of his artistic drive and talent.

Rey began to seriously pursue a career in art in his 20s, entering local art competitions and eventually took his talent to regional and even national competitions, earning many awards and accolades along the way.

Deciding which of his artworks to gift to the Hamilton General Hospital team was easy.

Titled ‘Purple Heart’, Rey had started the artwork on Valentine’s Day in 2022 and finished the project just two weeks before his heart attack.

“Those people at Hamilton General, they deserve a medal for all the things that they did for me. I titled the painting Purple Heart, which is a military medal.”

Rey's act of generosity serves as a poignant reminder of the enduring impact of compassionate health care. It affirms that every act of kindness has the power to ignite a spark of hope in the hearts of those in need. Rey's journey stands out as a shining example of the profound impact exceptional health care can have on a grateful heart and the enduring beauty of such ripples of gratitude.

Your generous support makes these kinds of life-saving interventions possible. Your commitment and compassion equip dedicated health care teams with the tools they need to save lives. Hamilton Health Sciences serves a region of 2.3 million people across south-central Ontario, and the need for its specialized services—like the cardiac care that saved Rey's life—is only growing. Donate today.

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