Heart in the right place

May 20, 2015

Patient returns to thank entire cardiac care team

Story by Sharman Hnatiuk; Photo by Paul Rotzinger

Max Chavda was making a list and checking it twice.

The 60-year-old Edmonton man had spent less than 48 hours in hospital following a heart attack. While an inpatient, he kept a diary of everything that happened and, most important, every health care provider he met.

He knew he would come back one day and want to thank them all.

And that’s exactly what Chavda did. He recently returned to the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute to thank the medical team that helped him recover from a potentially life-threatening cardiac condition.

With them, he shared apples, thank-you cards, hugs, handshakes and laughter.

“This is a life-changing experience for me,” says Chavda. “It’s a wakeup call. And while I was (in hospital), I thought, ‘You know what? I need to document this event and remember all of those people because, when I go home, I want to send a thank you note to them.’ Then I thought, ‘If I can say it in person, that’s even better.’ ”

AHS Communications arranged for a return visit and cameras captured the emotional reunions for a new Because You Cared video.

The Mazankowski staff was unaware of Chavda’s plans.

“It’s crazy. This doesn’t happen every day,” says registered nurse Amber Soetaert.

“It definitely caught me off-guard. I appreciated it a lot … A good way to end a shift!”

Cardiologist Dr. Dylan Taylor, Medical Director of the Mazankowski, says he appreciated Chavda’s gesture.

“We’re very happy to hear stories like that because we try to provide the kind of care, the quality of care, and the timeliness of care that will allow patients to get back to their normal lives as quickly as possible,” Dr. Taylor says.

Chavda has returned to doing the things he loved to do before his heart attack, including playing golf and badminton, and taking nightly walks with his wife, Jay.

Because of his active lifestyle and vegetarian diet, Chavda didn’t suspect heart problems when he started feeling chest pains after eating a spicy vegetarian pizza for dinner last fall. He thought it was just bad heartburn.

But when the pain persisted the next morning, he decided to go to the emergency department.

“Jay just laughed it off: ‘You’re not the kind to go to the emergency department,’ ” Chavda recalls. “I said, ‘No, this is serious. We need to check this out.’ ”

Chavda was right. Following several blood and cardiac tests, Chavda was told something he couldn’t believe: he had a heart attack caused by a blockage in one artery.

“I said, ‘Oh my God, I didn’t know I had had a heart attack,’ ” says Chavda.

He was sent to the catheterization lab at the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute, where the blockage was removed and a stent implanted to keep the artery open. Chavda was back home less than two full days after going into the emergency department.

“I’ve been getting stronger every day. The first couple of days were a little bit tough — I felt out of energy more than anything else — but now I’m feeling a lot better,” Chavda says.

He’s glad he kept as diary in hospital and had an opportunity to thank members of his medical team in person.

“I’ve had time to reflect on it. I received the best care beyond expectation from everybody,” Chavda says.

“Their professionalism was phenomenal. They were humble. They were just doing their jobs – but in my eyes, they were the true heroes.”