It was the night of Duncan Ris’ 30th birthday when he started feeling chest pains.

After an evening of celebrating with his wife and friends, Duncan’s pain got worse and he started vomiting. Around midnight, he went to the Emergency Department (ED) at VGH where his condition rapidly deteriorated. While undergoing tests, Duncan went into cardiac arrest.

The father of six year old Caleb had undergone life-saving heart surgery.

“It was pretty serious — his heart had stopped,” says Dr. Tara Sedlak, Duncan’s cardiologist. “We took him immediately from the ED to the angiogram lab where we found a 100% blockage of the big artery that comes down the front of the heart. Using a balloon and stent we were able to open up the blocked artery and save Duncan.”

Duncan was diagnosed with coronary artery disease; a rare disease for someone so young.

New view on life

Following his unexpected and frightening health scare, Duncan says he views life differently now.

“Everything changed and my life was turned entirely upside-down.”

“I think that’s a pretty common side effect of nearly dying, ” says Duncan. “It was like falling down the rabbit hole and waking up in Wonderland. I am much more aware of my body and generally appreciate it more, despite considering it a little bit less dependable. The joys and challenges of family feel different when life’s fragility is more deeply known and the future more plainly vulnerable. I like to think I have learned some things about enjoying the moment; I try harder to let things be what they are and find satisfaction in the process.”

Philanthropy is vital to health care

When faced with a medical crisis, we all hope for the best treatment available. VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation partners with generous donors to support delivery of the best care possible for all British Columbians. VGH has a long history of providing exceptional, cutting-edge cardiac care to adults across the province. VGH’s cardiologists are renowned researchers in a number of areas, including cardiac oncology, women’s heart health and coronary artery disease to name a few.

How much does equipment cost?

Stretcher – $6,800

Wheelchair – $7,180

Critical care bed – $14,050

“Philanthropic donations support all of our important research into cardiac conditions affecting both men and women, young and old,” says Dr. Sedlak. “We can develop new diagnostic techniques, new treatments and ultimately increase the chances of survival and a better quality of life.”

Join us in funding leading research and equipment that saves lives like Duncan’s. Donate Now.