A powerful journey from living with an artificial heart to a heart transplant....

Monday, May 17, 2010

Where does the funding come from?

A typical question about the LVAD is, where does the funding come from?

Today I was part of a fundraising event in Caledon, a small town just north of Toronto. The function was held at a beautiful golf course, the Devel's Pulpit. My Dad was kind enough to be my special guest. I was proud to have him with me. There were a few people that thought he was my husband..... He was very complimented. I'm not sure how I should feel about that....

The purpose of this event was to raise funds directly for the mechanical heart department. To answer your question, funding for the LVAD is from donations. It is not yet funded by the government. To my understanding, each LVAD costs approximately $80,000 to $100,000. I'm not sure if that includes all of the equipment, such as the controllers, the batteries, the charger, the power base unit, etc. Even though that seems expensive, it's still far less expensive than keeping a patient alive in the ICU for an extended period of time and also far less expensive than losing that patients life. We must think of the benefits the LVAD is giving to the hospital and the patient. I am able to wait for my heart transplant at home, while improving my condition to better my success when a heart becomes available.

Anyway, this function was a great experience for me. I really enjoy being included and having the opportunity to show these generous donors exactly where their money is going. The donors played the golf course and later enjoyed lunch in the banquet hall. There was an auction held where items were donated from other companies and all of the proceeds were given to the mechanical heart department. They had some really great items, such as a big screen tv, a popcorn maker and stand, a digital camera, a computer monitour, a 3-night stay in New York city, and many other things. It's incredible to think about all of the generosity that has contributed to this event.

I was very excited to be at this event to enjoy the company of the head cardiac surgeon of the mechanical heart and heart transplant departments, Dr. Rao. It's not often that patients are honoured with their doctor's company on a more casual basis. I am very proud to say that he is my doctor. Not only is he an amazing doctor, but a fantastic auctioneer! He raised a lot of money for the department. He is a kind person and clearly takes his work very seriously. Noone could miss him, as you can see from his flashy pants!

Another person I was honoured to spend my time with at this event was my former "pump-pal", Jenn. She was supported by the LVAD for about a year and a half and has now been transplanted. She came to visit me in the hospital just after my LVAD surgery. I remember being high on many pain killers and asking her, "So, does it get better?" And she replied, "It gets ALOT better." My thought was, lady, you are full of it! I was in so much pain. I could not imagine a world without it. Seeing her there gave me hope of the future. I had faith that I would get through this challenging time and look like a normal person again. Jenn is an inspiration. She illustrates such strength and a genuine sense of appreciation for life. Thanks to Jenn for everything she has given me.

Jenn (my ex-pump-pal), Dr. Rao and myself. A very proud moment to be in the presence of such wonderful people. Did you notice Dr. Rao's pants?

I would like to take this moment to send a strong and warm thank you to the donors. I am alive because you contributed to the fund. I would simply not be here if it weren't for your generousity. Your money is hard at work in the people who have been given a second chance. We do our best to make a difference. Be proud of what you have done.

Please consider a donation to the mechanical heart department at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre. You can donate online at www.inaheartbeat.ca. Thank you.

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