June 7, 2019 4:30 pm
Updated: June 7, 2019 6:37 pm

Planned cardiac lab in Kelowna will lift travel burden for patients

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It was the end of May when Wayne Johnson of Revelstoke went into cardiac arrest in his hospital room at Kelowna General Hospital (KGH) following a series of heart attacks.

“They were shocking me,” Johnson said. “I don’t know how many times they shocked me.

“They wouldn’t give up, they wouldn’t stop; I don’t even know how you could thank someone for that.”


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READ MORE: The KGH Foundation has launched a $7 million campaign to bring more cardiac services to Kelowna General Hospital

And while doctors and nurses managed to revive the 53-year old, it turns out that he has a potentially life-threatening problem with his heart’s electrical system.

“They said that I’m a high likelihood to get the defibrillator installed in my chest, which will keep my heart beating when it stops. Essentially, it sends a shock.”

But that, along with other advanced heart arrhythmia procedures, can’t be performed at KGH, meaning the Johnsons, like so many other patients, are limbo as they wait for a bed to open in the Lower Mainland.

“Everything is on hold. Yeah our jobs are on hold, our kids are traumatized,” said Wayne’s wife, Tammie.

READ MORE: New, specialized lab at Kelowna hospital will complete cardiac program

But patients like Johnson may soon have it easier with the planned addition of a specialized lab at KGH.

An electrophysiology lab is where procedures to treat advanced arrhythmia conditions will be performed.

That includes implanting patients with specialized pacemakers and defibrillators and performing what’s called ablation.

WATCH BELOW (Aired April 19, 2019): Years of growth in cardiac care at Kelowna General Hospital

“You put a catheter in through the groin, feed it up into the heart. You create a 3D model of the inside of the heart, and from there you can sort of map where the electricity is running and actually cauterize parts of that circuit,” said Dr. Chris Lane, who will head up the lab.

Dr. Lane currently works in Victoria and sees between three and five patients from the Okanagan every week.

More than half of the $7 million needed for the lab has already been raised through a fundraising campaign.

WATCH BELOW (Aired April 28, 2017): KGH unveils new CT Scanner

It’s hoped the lab will be up and running at KGH in the summer of 2020.

It will mean patients without the means or support to travel to other cities for treatment will also have access to a state-of-the-art cardiac program in the Okanagan.

If you’d like more information about the Right Here at KGH campaign, or would like to donate, click on this link.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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