One morning, a couple of months ago, Bjorn Morris went downtown with his roommate. He didn’t think he would end up at in the emergency room with a stab wound to his heart.

“It was a normal day. We were just walking between Cambie and Pender, and I got into an argument with some woman,” he recalls.

After parting ways from the bizarre confrontation, Bjorn and his roommate kept walking. That’s when the woman surprised him from behind, and thrust, what police believe to be a knife, through his sternum and into his heart.

“It’s weird – I don’t remember being stabbed, it felt like more being hit in the chest,” he says. “But there was a lot of blood.”

Bjorn’s quick-thinking roommate called 911 and an ambulance came and took him to the Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) emergency room where he suffered cardiac arrest and was cared for by Dr. Anthony Chahal and Dr. Andrew Campbell. For more than eight hours, the VGH team, led by Dr. David Evans, performed complex surgery, trying to get his heart going again and to stop the bleeding.

Following the operation he was brought into the intensive care unit where Dr. Naisan Garraway and his team monitored blood flow and oxygen in his brain, looking for signs of any cognitive damage. Luckily, thanks to the paramedics and the overall team at VGH, Bjorn woke up without any brain damage.

“He’s very, very lucky to be alive. He survived because of a combination of factors: the paramedics quickly getting him to the right hospital where there’s a trauma team and surgeon, and from there all of the skills and technology in the ICU to take care of him after the surgery,” says Dr. Garraway.

“The people at VGH are absolutely amazing – they saved my life and it’s absolutely incredible what they did,” says Bjorn. “I went back there recently to say thanks in person – it was really special.”

While he’s still recovering, both physically and emotionally, from the incident, Bjorn sees the world a little differently now.

“Life isn’t back to normal yet, but I definitely have an appreciation I didn’t have before,” he says. There are little things when you go out that are normally boring, but pretty cool now – like just sitting at the beach, looking out at the water…those are cool moments.”

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