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Darlene Sorin, of Lockport, has a saying. “It’s never good to have a heart attack. But if you do have one, St. Boniface Hospital is the best place to be.” 

Her saying comes from experience, after she had a STEMI heart attack, the most serious kind, at work in the spring of 2023. She was 61 years old.  

It had been a typical workday. But when she returned from her usual four-kilometre walk over the lunch hour, Sorin felt off.  

“I came back to my desk, sat down, and started working,” said Sorin. “Suddenly, I had a strange feeling, and it wasn’t good.”  

Her friend, Karen, came into the office. She noticed Sorin was looking pale and leaning to one side in her chair. “I told her I just didn’t feel right,” remembered Sorin. 

Concerned, Karen called in Dr. Scott Brudney, whose office was just down the hall, to see Sorin. He told her she had to go straight to the Emergency Department. 

Once there, the triage nurses moved quickly to assess Sorin’s condition as they would any patient presenting with heart attack symptoms. An electrocardiogram test confirmed Sorin was having a heart attack. She received treatment immediately to save her life. 

“I was never afraid, never anxious. I felt like I was in really good hands,” she said. “The care I received was truly remarkable; all the staff were fantastic.” 

Heart disease is the number 1 cause of premature death in women in Canada. Heart attacks run in Sorin’s family, she said. Both of her parents died of them, in fact. Following her own heart attack, Sorin gained a newfound appreciation for the work being done improve diagnosis, care, and outcomes for women at St. B. 

“I’m told that women remain under-studied, under-diagnosed, under-treated, and under-aware when it comes to their heart health. Together we can do better,” she commented. 

Looking back on her experience, Sorin says she feels more connected to your kindness. “I work at St. B, and I was also a patient. I’m in awe that I had a heart attack. Sometimes I still don’t believe it,” she reflected. 

“It just goes to show, Hospital staff are also part of the community the Hospital serves.” 

While on a trek to Mount Everest base camp in 2006, Paul Bernardin, of Winnipeg, unknowingly experienced his first heart attack. He was just 49 years old. His fellow climbers assumed he was struggling with the elevation, and he was treated for altitude sickness. 

After he returned home, Bernardin experienced a second heart attack. This time, there was no mistaking the symptoms: a soreness in his arms and jaw, a squeezing feeling across his chest, and persistent nausea. Knowing that he was in danger, he dialed 911.  

Bernardin was experiencing a STEMI – the most serious kind of heart attack. He was sent to the Cardiac Catheterization Lab at St. Boniface Hospital and received a stent to open blood flow to his heart. He survived, thanks to the compassionate care and quick intervention at St. B, Manitoba’s Cardiac Centre of Excellence. 

“Once you get in, it’s like a well-oiled machine. It’s so efficient. Everything and everyone just moves into place,” Bernardin remarked when reflecting on the excellent care. “When you really need help, things run so smoothly. It’s the most amazing thing.” 

Bernardin’s cardiac care team gave him the gift of time. And with it, the energy and motivation to lead a healthier life. He took up running. By Father’s Day of 2008, he had completed his first Manitoba half marathon. He kept going. 

Now, 15 years later, he’s completed 18 full marathons, 70 half marathons, and he’s still running.  

Wanting to make a difference while pursuing his passion, Bernardin wanted to make his runs even more meaningful. He decided to set himself a new challenge: to run every single street in Winnipeg, totalling 5,000km. That’s the same as running coast to coast, from Vancouver to Quebec City.  

Through his Winnipeg Street Run 5000K project, Bernardin aims to raise money for cardiac care at St. Boniface Hospital. He plans to keep it going until 2026, the 20th anniversary of Bernardin’s heart attacks. 

Let's Win Together!

With your Tri-Hospital Dream Lottery tickets, you’ll be entered to win millions in prizes—and you’ll be helping hundreds of thousands of Manitobans, including children, who depend on our hospitals to be there in times of greatest need. 

Together, St. Boniface Hospital, Health Sciences Centre, and HSC Winnipeg Children’s Hospital serve nearly one million patients annually and help deliver close to 11,000 babies each year. From labor and delivery to palliative care, we are here for you for life. 

Retirement often marks the beginning of a new chapter, filled with plans for relaxation and enjoyment. However, for Stan Gajek, his plans took an unexpected turn when, on the first day of his retirement after working for 30 years, he experienced a spinal stroke that left him with no movement below his waist.

Gajek’s rehabilitation began on HSC Winnipeg’s Intensive Care Unit and in HSC’s rehabilitation program. Daily sessions included stretching and exercises, gradually transitioning to physiotherapy. Janine, a key member of the team, along with HSC Winnipeg nurses and assistants, helped Gajek regain movement.

Almost exactly one year prior to Gajek’s stroke, HSC Foundation donors rallied together to purchase recreational equipment for HSC Winnipeg patients who have suffered spinal cord injuries, endured amputations, or have been diagnosed with neuromuscular disorders.

The equipment purchased included a new hand-cycle, which Gajek credits for opening his eyes to new possibilities beyond a wheelchair. From using the hand-cycle to participating in wheelchair basketball, Gajek embraced various therapeutic approaches.

“It’s important to try to stay active,” says Gajek. “I am grateful for the donors who funded this equipment that gave me the opportunity to be more active when in hospital.”

Gajek's tenacity has paid off. Recently, Gajek started climbing a few stairs with assistance. This remarkable progress is a testament to his determination, the unwavering support of the health care professionals at HSC, and the generosity of HSC Foundation donors. 

Let's Win Together!

With your Tri-Hospital Dream Lottery tickets, you’ll be entered to win millions in prizes—and you’ll be helping hundreds of thousands of Manitobans, including children, who depend on our hospitals to be there in times of greatest need. 

Together, St. Boniface Hospital, Health Sciences Centre, and HSC Winnipeg Children’s Hospital serve nearly one million patients annually and help deliver close to 11,000 babies each year. From labor and delivery to palliative care, we are here for you for life. 

We’re teaming up for a healthier Manitoba. And your ticket purchase changes lives. 

No parent wants to be apart from their child. It is especially difficult when that child is very sick.

Brenda was eight months pregnant when her oldest daughter, Janessa, was rushed by Medivac from the General Hospital in The Pas to HSC Children’s Hospital. Janessa, 11 years old at the time, was curled in a fetal position screaming in pain as she left that day.

“I would just cry when family and friends asked about her,” says Brenda Dumas.

But Janessa’s health journey started much earlier. At age five she started having high fevers and recurring urinary tract infections (UTIs). Nearly every two months for a year Brenda would seek help at the local nursing station in Pukatawagan. Nurses did not know the cause, so they did their best to treat the symptoms and offer cleaning suggestions. But the UTIs got worse, and Janessa was in more and more pain, so Brenda and her husband Gary Colomb packed up Janessa and drove from their home in Pukatawagan to The Pas emergency room. There doctors provided medication, ran tests and referred her to HSC Children’s Hospital in Winnipeg.

At HSC Children’s, doctors told the family that young Janessa’s kidneys weren’t functioning properly; one was small and the other was diseased, causing urine to backup into the kidneys and triggering the UTIs. A surgical procedure was done to insert a gel pack that would prevent further backup, but Janessa’s diseased kidney was the bigger concern.

“The UTIs stopped, but her health continued to decline,” says Brenda.

The family took the train or airplane every three months from Pukatawagan to Winnipeg for check-ups, leaving behind their two younger sons with family members each time. By age seven, Janessa was diagnosed with Stage 3 kidney disease but was stable for several more years, able to enjoy the activities she loved in her community like ice fishing and skidooing.

“She was an active kid – she loved being outside with friends,” laughs Brenda.

But that all changed. One weekend after spending time outside, Janessa developed a high fever. Brenda wondered if she was just sick from being in the cold weather but then the vomiting started and would not stop. Brenda was pregnant and on bed rest, so Gary made the trip to HSC Children’s with his daughter.

“Her dad and I stayed in contact the whole time. We were both so scared for our daughter.”

Janessa had reached Stage 4 kidney disease, with 25 per cent kidney function that continued to decline.

Brenda made the decision to go visit her daughter for a couple days. “I was so relieved to get there to see her.” Brenda says the doctors and nurses took care of them both. “They said, ‘we’re going to get Janessa home with you before that baby is born,’” says Brenda fondly, “and they did.”

Janessa was home for the birth of her baby sister but within a few months she developed anemia and renal failure seizures began.

“That’s when we decided to move to Winnipeg to stay close to her and her care.”

The family packed up the kids and found a place to live near the hospital. Janessa was now in kidney failure and a transplant was the next step.

COVID-19 in early 2020 created a significant setback, slowing the process of the required tests to join the transplant list. In November 2020, at 12 years old, Janessa joined the list.  

“I was relieved as she no longer had energy and no appetite. I just wanted it to happen so she could start to feel better. They told us there was a risk the body might reject the new kidney, so that still scared us.”

In December 2020, Janessa had her kidney transplant, and the surgery went well.

“The doctors and nurses were very good…helpful and caring to Janessa. They were awesome,” says Brenda. “Janessa and the kidney are doing very well… she has named her kidney ‘Bob’.” 

Janessa is now a teenager and back in her home community enjoying the activities she loves, like dancing and learning how to make snowshoes. She will continue to visit the hospital every few weeks for checkups on her kidney function. Janessa’s family is grateful for the pediatric specialists they rely on, and the care Janessa has received. 

“The Children’s Hospital helped my child and gave her a chance to live a normal life again.”

Let's Win Together!

With your Tri-Hospital Dream Lottery tickets, you’ll be entered to win millions in prizes—and you’ll be helping hundreds of thousands of Manitobans, including children like Janessa, who depend on our hospitals to be there in times of greatest need. 

Together, St. Boniface Hospital, Health Sciences Centre, and HSC Winnipeg Children’s Hospital serve nearly one million patients annually and help deliver close to 11,000 babies each year. From labor and delivery to palliative care, we are here for you for life. 

We’re teaming up for a healthier Manitoba. And your ticket purchase changes lives. 

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