Giving from the Heart
And Saving Lives
Another successful 630 CHED Heart Pledge Day for the University Hospital Foundation, presented by Durabuilt Windows & Doors has raised much needed funds for the University of Alberta Hospital’s Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute (Maz).
These generous donations will help ensure the Maz remains one of the world’s leading complex cardiac care centres by supporting innovation, allowing our cardiac care teams to provide leading-edge care from diagnosis to surgery, to rehabilitation, and beyond, to patients, patients just like Adrienne Mahoney.
Adrienne is a bass guitarist in the heavy metal band Kelevra, out of Regina, Saskatchewan. She is also a former Muay Thai fighter, and is active in weight training and running. She doesn’t sound like your typical cardiac patient, or like someone who was so close to dying that she needed life support at the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute to survive. But that’s where she was about four years ago, when her heart began failing her.
Back then Adrienne thought she was in top physical condition. She was training and fighting regularly, and had just been touring with her band.
When she started to feel sick, she never would have guessed that she would need to be put on life support to keep her alive.
“I felt like I had a bad flu and asthma. I felt run down and tired. I had gone into the ER a few times with trouble breathing and back pain. I thought it was from my training, but it was actually heart failure that had been developing for a couple of years.”
Suddenly, she found herself being flown on life support from Saskatchewan to Alberta to get to the Mazankowski. Her heart was functioning at less than 9%.
Adrienne’s heart failure was caused by an autoimmune disorder that she didn’t even know she had.
“I’m just so thankful I got to the Mazankowski because when I ended up in critical care in Regina, my doctors and surgeons here in Saskatchewan said,
‘We don’t have the specialists and you’re going to die if you don’t leave.’
So, I was emergently flown to the Maz and they saved my life [there] multiple times.”
Adrienne underwent four open heart surgeries in three years, and spent a lot of time in the ICU at the Mazankowski.
She was put on a special life support called Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) to keep her alive. Then she received a mechanical heart, a Left Ventricular Assist Device (L-VAD), which took over pumping blood through her body for her heart. Finally, she received her heart transplant.
She is about to come up on her second anniversary from the transplant, and is grateful that the Maz and the amazing staff who work there were there for her when she needed them.
“Nothing exists like the Mazankowski in Saskatchewan, so to have the research and expertise that happens there is so important.”
She is also grateful to her donor and their family for giving her the ability to live a full life.
“Now, every day of my life, my mandate is to bring awareness to the need for donors. Everything I do is me and my donor going with me.”
Now she is able to return to doing the things she loves, like performing.
“After every surgery, music has been my motivation to recover.”
She is currently working on a composition called “Duende” that will be recorded and hopefully performed live in the future. This ensemble piece reflects her personal journey through heart failure and recovery. The musicians she has chosen to play on this piece with her will explore these themes in relation to their instruments and their own journey.
“I plan on dedicating this work to my donor, their family and any soul who has ever seen the dark and found light.”
Thanks to support of the generous donors and sponsors who made 630 CHED Heart Pledge Day an overwhelming success, the Maz will continue to be there to save and change the lives of patients like Adrienne every day.
Thank you to our generous sponsors:
Presenting: Durabuilt Windows & Doors
Heart Wall: Rosenau Transport
Matching Gift: Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada
Hourly Sponsors: First Truck Centre Edmonton, Trail Appliances, Popeye’s Supplements Canada, Scott Builders, Myshak Group
Friends of the Maz Sponsors: JK Mc Kenzie Holdings, LiUNA Western Canada, Ernst & Young LLP, Volker Stevin Highways, and Medtronic Cardiac Therapies & Diagnostics.
And our In-Kind Sponsors: Delux Burger Bar Crestwood, Postmedia, Hillberg & Berk