Saskatoon man who’s had 4 brain surgeries to hold fundraiser for hospital

Click to play video: 'Brain surgery patient creates fundraiser to improve Saskatchewan medical care'
Brain surgery patient creates fundraiser to improve Saskatchewan medical care
A Saskatoon man is raising money to improve facilities at the Royal University Hospital's neurology department. This comes after having four brain surgeries with two of them performed out of province. As Kabi Moulitharan tells us, it's not only the patient who has had a difficult road to recovery. – Mar 17, 2023

Despite struggling with memory loss, fatigue and other symptoms associated with brain damage, Saskatoon resident Brennon Dulle is advocating for brain surgeries to be performed in Saskatchewan after having to travel to Calgary for the last two he had.

Dulle has had four brain surgeries after having a stroke and aggressive seizures.

He is putting together a fundraiser for the Royal University Hospital Neurology Ward on May 20 at TCU Place, noting there will be food, entertainment, door prizes and raffle draws.

“Anything would be nice for the doctors and nurses,” Dulle said, adding that he’d like to raise $10,000 if he could.

Jennifer Molloy is the CEO of the Royal University Hospital Foundation and said they are glad to have the support.

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“We feel really grateful to have the support of Brennon, a patient that’s gone through a lot through the hospital system, and in turn has offered to make this extremely generous gift through really getting the community engaged and behind him to give back to the neurology department,” Molloy said.

Dulle said he had an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) stroke, and had a couple of surgeries in Saskatchewan, but his case was beyond local capabilities.

“I had to get my last two brain surgeries done in Calgary because we can’t do them in Saskatchewan … I had to get 15 electrodes planted into my head.”

The aftermath of Brennon Dulle’s brain surgery. Brennon Dulle

According to the American Stroke Association, arteries carry blood containing oxygen from the heart to the brain, and veins carry blood with less oxygen away from the brain and back to the heart. An AVM is where a tangle of blood vessels in the brain will bypass normal brain tissue and divert blood from the arteries to the veins.

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The association noted that around 20-25 per cent of AVM patients suffer from focal or generalized seizures.

Dulle said he didn’t deal with seizures for about a year and a half after his second surgery, but then he started getting severe ones.

“I got seizures again, and then they became hardcore, really bad,” he said.

The aftermath of Brennon Dulle’s brain surgery. Brennon Dulle

“I’ve had a couple of seizures that were an hour and 45 minutes long.”

He said he’s had somewhere between 500 and 600 seizures.

He noted he had to be placed into a coma that lasted days due to one of his seizures, later being brought out of the coma with the hopes that he wouldn’t have a seizure again.

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Dulle said he advocated to the provincial government because the surgery he needed wasn’t available in Saskatchewan, which resulted in his surgeries in Calgary. He said that this has impacted every part of his life.

He said he takes more than 27 pills a day for his seizures, he’s fatigued, he can’t drive, he can’t work, and his time right now is spent focusing on his fundraiser.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever work, so I plan on doing this for the rest of my life.”

The aftermath of Brennon Dulle’s brain surgery. Brennon Dulle

Gillian Dulle, Brennon’s wife, said this journey has been a tough one, but said she’s there to support Brennon.

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“When you commit to somebody, you commit. And Brennon has supported me through things, my career, my army career, a couple of tours to Afghanistan, and now it’s my turn to support him.”

She said it is difficult, but this journey has created resiliency within both of them.

Gillian said they like to travel, but bucket list destinations are off the table until they know Brennon’s health is stable.

“We were at Lake Diefenbaker camping one weekend and Brennon had a seizure that lasted an hour and 45 minutes, and we had to have STARS called to evacuate him out of there so they could get to the ICU.”

She said there are phenomenal doctors and nurses in the province that have been with them on this journey.

Gillian had advice for anyone else with someone in their lives: you need to take time for yourself.

“You can only support the person you’re supporting if you’re at your best.”

“Make sure you’re getting enough rest, exercise, eating right, so that you aren’t taken down with exhaustion and stress at the same time,” Gillian added.

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She said just being there is important, adding that you can’t fix everything.

“Sometimes it’s just being there to hold a hand and remind them that things are going to be OK.”

Global News received a statement from the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA).

“Patients requiring electroencephalography (EEG), and particularly surgically implanted EEG electrodes (DEEG) is currently limited in Saskatchewan, which means that patients are currently travelling outside of Saskatchewan to access this procedure,” read the statement.

The authority said expanding access to this type of treatment is a priority for both the SHA and the government of Saskatchewan.

“The Saskatchewan Ministry of Health is supporting the SHA to stabilize its neurosciences program through specifically targeted recruitment, enhanced staffing and training for physician providers. Over the past year the health system has put a significant focus on recruitment and continues to prioritize the expansion of new treatments and surgeries within the province.”

“The Ministry of Health is collaborating with the Ministries of Advanced Education, and Immigration and Career Training on recruitment, retention, and training strategies to address the health human resource priorities of Saskatchewan. The Government of Saskatchewan is also establishing an independent agency dedicated to the recruitment and retention of doctors, nurses, and other high-priority professions.”


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