Dylan Hill’s Story: Heroic Heart Surgery

A nasty case of pneumonia saved Dylan Hill’s life.

At only 42 years old, Hill was fit and healthy. He had been in the in the Canadian Armed Forces Reserves for five years, with all the required physicals. He had even run a full marathon in 2007 without any obvious signs of a problem.

When he came down with pneumonia at the end of 2016, he went to see his doctor about it. While examining Hill, the physician asked him if he knew he had a heart murmur, which Hill did not.

Hill’s doctor scheduled follow-up tests, including an echocardiogram – one of about 10,000 performed at St. Boniface Hospital each year. It confirmed he had bicuspid aortic valve disease (BAVD).

Most people go through their lives without thinking too much about the Hospital, until the day comes that a friend, or loved-one, or they, need to be in one. Suddenly, Hill became one of more than 63,000 patients St. Boniface Hospital’s Cardiac Sciences Program cares for on an annual basis.

With BAVD, which is present at birth, his aortic valve wasn’t working properly, but had been working “adequately” for years without causing symptoms.

The cardiologist told him BAVD would cause his heart to enlarge, because of the extra workload it had to do, and put him at a greater risk of heart attack or other sudden cardiac events. The doctor said he needed to have open-heart surgery soon, to repair the defective valve and save his life. He gave Hill no other choice.

Sheri, Dylan, and their son Luke.

“My impression was: left untreated, I would die,” said Hill.

“That meant I would leave my wife of 15 years, Sheri, without her husband and our beloved seven-year-old son, Luke, without his dad. I couldn’t let that happen.”

He underwent open-heart surgery at St. Boniface Hospital to contour his aortic valve, allowing it to seal properly for the first time in his life.

This year, he started volunteering weekly in the Hospital’s Healing Hearts program, in which former patients who have gone through open-heart surgery visit current recovering patients.

“I’ve seen first-hand how your continued support of the Tri-Hospital Dream Lottery helps the patients I volunteer to visit each week. They have the rest of their lives ahead of them, just as I did,” said Hill.

More about how your tickets help:

Each year, hundreds of thousands of Manitobans – including children – depend on our hospitals to be there in times of greatest need. St. Boniface Hospital, Health Sciences Centre, and Children’s Hospital-HSC Winnipeg serve a combined 1 million patients annually – and help deliver more than 11,000 babies each year. And all funds raised stay right here in Manitoba.

From labour and delivery to palliative care… we are here for you, and we are here for life.

Funds raised from this year’s Tri-Hospital Dream Lottery will go directly toward improving patient care, funding research, and purchasing specialized equipment and technology, which will benefit all the patients that visit our hospitals annually – and all our doctors, nurses, staff, and health care heroes who are working so hard for our province and for all Manitobans.

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