Hospital employee becomes a patient
As the manager of research development & relations at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS), Daniela Bianco is well acquainted with the leading-edge work conducted across the hospital sites. But in July 2018, she experienced this exceptional level of care for the first time as a patient.
Bianco was exercising at her local gym in Hamilton when she suddenly felt a numbing sensation crawling up her arms.
“I thought I was having a stroke,” she says. “I veered on the side of caution and called the paramedics. I was later told I would have died had I not called 9-1-1.”
She was rushed by ambulance to Hamilton General Hospital (HGH). Bianco learned that she had suffered a heart attack due to a 100-per-cent blockage with a blood clot in her main left artery. The diagnosis was surprising to her, as she didn’t have the symptoms typically associated with heart attacks.
“My symptoms escalated as I was wheeled through the Emergency Department,” says Bianco. “I wasn’t even 50 years old, but honestly didn’t think I was going to survive.”
“I feel very blessed to live in Hamilton because I was at the right place, at the right time to receive the right care.”
Time was of the essence. In the Heart Investigation Unit (HIU), the blood clot was removed and a stent (a wire-mesh tube) was inserted into Bianco’s artery, which restored blood flow to her heart. This minimally invasive procedure saved her life.
“My eyes were closed throughout the ordeal, but I could sense the precision of my care team. It was an awe-inspiring moment as I heard my heartbeat resume to a normal rhythm after the stent was inserted.”
Bianco spent four days recovering at HGH before she was discharged home. She returned as an outpatient at the Cardiac Health & Rehabilitation Centre for supervised walking and cycling exercises. She was also referred to a community program for additional support.
“The community program covered topics including nutrition, managing stress and heart disease. I was the youngest person in my class, which shows you’re never too young or too fit to suffer a heart attack.”
Bianco completed rehabilitation in November 2018 and is back to her regular training regime. Her background in medical research inspired her to participate in a study that is aiming to better understand heart conditions.
“I feel very blessed to live in Hamilton because I was at the right place, at the right time to receive the right care. I am alive because of the clinical expertise of the health care teams at HGH. Their ability to help patients is enabled by donations, so I encourage anyone who can to make a donation and help more patients like me.”
Bianco is sharing her story as a 2020 Strides For The General patient ambassador.
“I challenge the HHS research community to rally and support this worthy cause,” she says. “Together we are stronger and can make a life-saving difference for our patients.”