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“Hi Vanya. You’re our Christmas miracle.”

Those were the first words I heard as I woke up after three weeks in a coma. My physician, Dr. Neil McKenzie, manually pumped my heart in the elevator on the way to the Operating Room to keep me alive - he literally held my heart in his hands as I lay on the operating table.

Dr. Neil McKenzieI know that I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for LHSC… if it wasn’t for YOU. Let me explain. I’ve had heart issues for much of my adult life, but it was manageable. I had a pacemaker/defibrillator that helped regulate my heartbeat. One day, I went in for what I thought was a routine procedure at LHSC. I woke up three weeks later to Dr. McKenzie saying those words to me. “Hi Vanya. You’re our Christmas miracle!”

It turns out that I had almost died – several times. At one point, Dr. McKenzie had literally held my heart in his hands, to help keep it pumping. My family had been called in to say goodbye and make essential life or death decisions about my care – guided by the amazing doctors and nurses at LHSC of course. 

For several days, I was hooked up to an ECMO machine, which took over the function of my heart and lungs to help my body get stronger. I know that gifts from generous people like you helped fund that ECMO machine. In fact, donors have a vital role in helping to purchase essential equipment that helps to save many lives.

I slowly recovered from my near-death experience, but it soon became clear that I needed a heart transplant. While I was waiting for a donor heart, I was hoping and praying, but also knowing that nothing is guaranteed. 

But... I also believe in miracles. And with that, a viable heart became available. I was fortunate to have a successful surgery – thanks to the amazing surgeons at LHSC.

Today, I’m doing great. My kids still have their mom, my husband still has his loving wife, and I am so very grateful to be alive. I am grateful for the Christmas miracle that you helped to make possible. I learned very quickly that life can be taken away in a matter of seconds. You never know when you or someone you love will be in need of exceptional, life-saving health care. Your caring gifts further that essential health care at LHSC. Thank you again for your support.

Wishing you and yours a joyous holiday, 

Vanya Lang 
A very grateful patient

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