Taking health care to heart

Taking health care to heart

Brad Porter of Ancaster had the unique experience of being both a health care provider and a patient at Hamilton General Hospital (HGH). He began his career at HGH in 1976 as a staff respiratory therapist in the ICU and the OR before becoming department head of the Respiratory Therapy Department.

“I never expected I would someday need the services of the hospital where I had spent so much of my career working,” says Brad.

Four decades later, Brad returned to HGH, this time as a patient.

“In February 2015, I experienced significant and unexplained weight loss,” Brad recalls. “A CT scan of my chest indicated that I had a congenital bicuspid aortic valve in my heart, which was causing a dangerous aortic aneurysm to develop. My family physician referred me to cardiac surgeon Dr. Victor Chu and cardiologist Dr. James Velianou, both renowned specialists in their fields.”

“I was very fortunate that they caught my condition when they did.”

Congenital bicuspid aortic valves often go undetected for years. Without surgery, Brad was at risk of experiencing a ruptured aortic aneurysm and heart failure. His initial reaction was one of denial and it took the persistence of Dr. Velianou to convince him that a delay in treatment could be a matter of life and death.

“I underwent open-heart bypass surgery to have my valve replaced and a graft inserted into my aorta,” Brad explains. “I was told following the surgery that the aneurysm had been at risk of rupturing in a matter of weeks.”

Brad was discharged from HGH five days following surgery and he slowly regained his strength with an exercise routine that included hiking and cycling. He was back to his usual activities within a couple of months.

“I was very fortunate that they caught my condition when they did,” says Brad. “This heart defect has a high rate of life-threatening complications and I was fortunate to receive such excellent care at HGH. I encourage donors to give back to the community and support the excellent work being done at HGH.”

Learn more about Hamilton General Hospital Foundation by visiting hamiltonhealth.ca.