Ask Danielle Desjardins why she’s so grateful to the University of Ottawa Heart Institute and she’ll tell you that it saved her life not only once, but twice.
In June 2000, Desjardins had a pacemaker put in.
Following a diagnosis of heart failure in July 2008, she had several surgeries, the most recent one being only five weeks ago, to implant a defibrillator in the right side of her chest.
And in a few months, when she gets what she hopes will be her final heart surgery, the Hawkesbury resident is looking forward to resuming her active life, which includes walking and playing rounds of golf.
“Since 2000, every day has been a blessing,” said Desjardins.
“The heart institute saved my life.”
The stories that people share every year at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute telethon are always touching, said University of Ottawa Heart Institute director of development, foundation Barry Stanton.
“People are so thankful to the institute — they get a new lease on life,” he said.
The institute raised $5,146,675 in its 18th annual telethon yesterday, falling slightly short of last year’s total of $5.7 million.
Although he acknowledged times are tough, Stanton said the Ottawa community is very generous.
“Heart disease touches a lot of people in the community,” he said. “More than one-third of people are touched somehow — either themselves or a friend,” he said.
The funds raised at the telethon stay local, benefiting cardiac and genetic research at the institute, Stanton said.
And because research here gets so much funding, the heart institute is able to attract world-renowned researchers.
“We’re able to have the best in the field in the Ottawa community,” he said. “The community here in Ottawa helped to build the heart institute, and every year, they help keep it going.”