Albertans answered the call on Heart Pledge Day, raising $100,141 for the Mazankowski Heart Institute and University Hospital Foundation, through a radiothon and a telethon on Thursday.
630 CHED and SHAW teamed with those organizations for Heart Pledge Day
, to provide patients with state-of-the-art technology, leading-edge research, and world class education.
Since the opening of the Mazankowski Heart Institute in 2009, over 35,000 patients have been treated there.
As the radiothon began Thursday morning, Joyce Law, the president of the University Hospital Foundation, paid tribute to everyone who has donated to Heart Pledge Day this year, and in years past.
"The government was very generous in building this institute," she said. "But, (a quarter of the money) that has built this institute has come from the community."
The Mazankowski Heart Institute has grown significantly, thanks to the generousity of people donating funds through events like Heart Pledge Day.
"The growth at the 'Maz' has really been in the very complex situations," says Dr. David Johnstone, who has overseen many of the 2,000 open heart surgeries performed at the hospital since it opened.
"A group of people that are thinking are better than any one person, so building the team has been the most exciting part of this whole project."
Nobody knows the benefits of the hospital more than those who are enjoying another chance at life because of it.
"When you hear his story, it actually brings you to tears," says Carole Manson McLeod, the hospital's executive director, about a young man she identifies as 'Shane.'
"If it wasn't for the heart institute here, and our ability to put in a mechanical heart with 'Shane,' he wouldn't be here today. Now, he's becoming a nurse."
One woman, who struggled to hold back tears, says she owes her life to the research being done at the hospital. Velma Pringle was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1983. One of the drugs she was taking led to heart damage
"He smiled all through my check up," said Velma Pringle, about the attending doctor who gave her hope, after she was told earlier by other doctors that there may not be any.
"He told me there was a possibility."
Given the gift he's received -- that being a new heart -- one man told 630 CHED's Bruce Bowie how important it is to become an organ donor, given how Albertans have this state-of-the-art facility in their own back yard.
"I signed my donor card probably 30 years ago, and I never expected I'd be a recipient," said Silvio Dobri, a patient who became the founder of the Goodhearts Mentoring Foundation, a support group for transplant patients. Dobri had a heart attack 13 years ago, and was fortunate enough to have a heart transplant just 10 days later -- long before the 'Maz' opened.
"Talk to your family -- let them know that you're willing to be a donor and help somebody else. I still hope I can donate some part of me."
The man who the institute is named for, former federal cabinet minister Don Mazankowski, was flattered by the generousity again shown.
"Listening to the very good work that 630 CHED did today, in terms of what the Maz centre is all about, it really gives one a lot of satisfaction," he told Lesley Primeau and Andrew Gross. "There was some very interesting cases. To many, this place is a beacon of hope. It's a beacon of hope because it saves lives, reduces suffering, and enhances the quality of life for many people."