Author Archives: Lianne Wand

A Legacy of Support

In its early days, respiratory technologist Fred Sander was invited to help Heart Institute founder Dr. Keon in his research.


It was the late 1960s, and Fred was an employee at the Civic Hospital. (Back then, before the Heart Institute had its own respiratory team, Fred would occasionally provide ventilation for Heart Institute patients.)


Meanwhile, Vivien was also in the healthcare field, working at the Civic as a dialysis nurse and occasionally visiting the Heart Institute.


“Sometimes I would also go to the Heart Institute to treat patients, because some would have acute renal failure after surgery,” she recalls.


Vivien admits she and Fred didn’t talk much about their time with the Civic Hospital or Heart Institute. However, that was deliberate. With both spouses working in the same industry and hospitals, they decided to keep work and home separate, “so we could have our own life outside of work.”


Comfort and care

Fred’s health began to deteriorate in the early 1990s. After experiencing his first heart attack in 1991, he was forced to retire—and became a regular patient at the Heart Institute.


“We went there for angioplasties, stents, and eventually a triple bypass,” says Vivien. “It was a lot; we’ve had quite a life with the Heart Institute.”


One particular memory which occurred following Fred’s triple bypass surgery stands out in Vivien’s memory.


“I knew some of the nurses there, and one of them said I could come and sit with Fred for a few hours,” she recalls. “I thought that was so compassionate. Being a nurse is so much different when it’s your spouse. The nurses were so good to me there; they just let me sit there and would bring me a cup of tea.”


“Not only did they look after Fred, but they looked after me too,” she adds. “That’s the thing—the Heart Institute looks after the families as well. We experienced their care firsthand, but also saw the good care they gave other people.”


When it was time to leave Fred for the night, Vivien recalls being given a phone number.


“The nurses told me to call at anytime—whether it was 2, 3 or 4 in the morning. They reassured me, and I was able to go to bed knowing he would be okay. It gave me great comfort.”


“In fact, any time Fred had to go into the Heart Institute, I always felt very comfortable. It was a relief because I knew he’d be in a place where they could properly care for him. I could be totally relaxed. That’s the one thing that will always be in my memory—how good the Heart Institute always was to us.”


Sadly, Fred passed away in 2016. This year, Fred and Vivien would have celebrated their 46th anniversary.


“He loved being at home in the country, being with the animals, going to the cottage, and gardening,” Vivien says in describing her late husband. “In fact, before he got sick, Fred would always be working in the garden—if you showed up unannounced, he’s probably have a shovel in his hand.”


An immigrant from East Germany, Fred was a relatively quiet man, but enjoyed socializing with his close-knit group of friends. However, says Vivien, “he did like going to Oktoberfest for the beer and polka dancing—and if he was in our group, he would often be the one talking all the time.”


A lasting legacy

Fred and Vivien supported the Heart Institute, making donations and throughout the years and with a Legacy Gift included in Fred’s will that will be used to support equipment purchases and education. In 2017, through Fred’s legacy and Vivien’s ongoing support, The Fred and Vivien Sander Fund for Nursing Education was established to support Heart Institute nurses’ professional development.


“Having been a head nurse and seeing how medicine is moving so fast, I know it’s very important that nurses receive extra education,” she says. “Nursing has to keep up—that’s the only way you keep up with medicine and the best nursing care possible. But you don’t learn all of that at school.


“Meanwhile, hospitals are under restraints when it comes to sending nurses on for additional education,” she adds. “So this fund will be there for nurses to tap into, if they are looking for extra training to become better cardiology nurses.”


The first awarding will happen later this year—and will be available to any nursing staff at the Heart Institute who wishes to pursue professional development.


Looking to the future

Recently, Vivien attended the Heart Institute’s Community Open House event to view the hospital’s new state-of-the-art facility.


“My eyes popped when I saw it; I was so impressed by the light and openness and expanse of the building,” she says. “And, putting my nurse’s cap on, it was wonderful to see the technology. Patients will not have to be opened from the chest anymore—surgery can be done through smaller incisions, and post-operative care will be so much easier.”


Vivien also believes the layout and features of the building will help patients with recovery, simply by being in it.


“I went to the fourth floor, where they have an open deck where patients can go outside and get fresh air,” she said. “And having all those windows and light will help with their circadian rhythm—which will help with recovery so much more.


“I really was blown away; it’s just beautiful. And I know Fred would have loved seeing that new hospital.”



Giving with Heart

Marion Martell is passionate about health, or more specifically, women’s heart health. There is no doubt that it has been a driving force in her leadership and volunteer work with the Canadian Women’s Heart Health Centre at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute.

It is her passion for women’s heart health and for the work being done at the Heart Institute through the Canadian Women’s Heart Health Centre that inspired her to leave a legacy gift in her will.

As a former nurse, Marion understands the impact that health can have on someone’s life. “I always knew I would be doing something related to health in my retirement,” Marion shared.

Marion is committed to helping women better understand their own heart health and to championing the opportunity to provide education, awareness, and support for women in our community.

Heart health has touched Marion’s life in more ways than one. Her father had valve surgery at the Heart Institute in the 1990s and then in 2008, she herself became a patient at the Heart Institute. Marion had developed sudden onset complete heart block. She required surgery and received a permanent pacemaker. Her firsthand experience as a patient gave her a deeper understanding of the importance of heart health.

As the years passed, Marion became more and more involved in programs connected to women’s heart health. She became a member of the Women’s Heart Champion Advisory Committee, and contributed to the creation of the Women @ Heart Peer Support Program (a program launched for women with  heart disease, run by women with heart disease to provide information, education, and support) and became one of its leaders and continues as both leader and Program Ambassador.

Marion is also involved in fundraising for the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. From 2009-2016 she co-chaired the Jeanne Fuller Red Dress Golf Classic which supports the Canadian Women’s Heart Health Centre and raises awareness about heart disease in women.

Marion’s desire to help women through her volunteer and advocacy work led to her decision to not only volunteer but to also give what she could financially. Heart disease used to be considered a “man’s disease,” but no longer. Heart disease is a leading cause of death among Canadian women. Although more research is being conducted than ever before around women’s heart health, there is still work to be done in order to better understand how heart disease presents in women.

“There is a gap in education and awareness around women’s heart health,” said Marion. “When I decided to give a legacy gift in my will, I did so in order to help sustain the many valuable  and essential programs at the Heart Institute,  including those provided by Canadian Women’s Heart Health Centre.”

Marion’s legacy gift gives her the opportunity to make a lasting impact on an area that is important to her. “I am simply glad to be playing a small part,” she said. “And doing what I can to remind women that I sincerely take their health to heart.”

A legacy gift through your will can affect the development of new programs to further the research that will become tomorrow’s treatments.

To learn more about the Canadian Women’s Heart Health Centre, please visit

To learn more about leaving a legacy, please  contact the Legacy Gifts team at 613-696-7251 or


When revising their wills in 2014, Ottawa residents Paul and Marilyn Koch decided to leave a legacy gift to the Heart Institute. “The Heart Institute, without question, saved my life,” said Paul.


An active volunteer fundraiser, Paul Koch and his wife Marilyn have donated time and funds to many organizations and causes. In 2009, at the corner of Bronson and Carling, life took a turn for the Kochs, and this event played a large part in their decision to include the Heart Institute in their legacy giving plans.


Paul and Marilyn had been out to dinner to celebrate their wedding anniversary that night in 2009. Upon returning home, Paul did not feel well, but, at first, chalked it up to an indulgent meal. The next morning as his symptoms persisted, Paul logged on to the internet to investigate. He had an existing hiatus hernia, which can have symptoms that resemble a heart attack, so his second thought was that the hernia was causing his discomfort. Just then, his arm began to tingle and it became clear to both that a heart attack might be imminent.


Rather than calling 911 which would have been the better thing to do, they jumped into the car and with Marilyn driving traveled from their home in Hunt Club toward the Civic Hospital. At the corner of Bronson and Carling, Paul experienced severe heart pain! As they reached the hospital, Paul jumped out of the car and ran into the hospital emergency room exclaiming, “I think I’m having a heart attack!”.


Within minutes he was wheeled over to the Heart Institute, and within an hour he was on the operating table. Paul had a 100% blockage of his LAD artery. In surgery he had a stent put in, and then spent four days recovering at the Heart Institute. “Two weeks later I walked 18 holes of golf,” said Paul, in praise of the care he received.


In many ways, Paul and Marilyn Koch have spent their lives giving back to their communities. Both lifelong volunteers and fundraisers, the Kochs are now both retired and continue to annually support over 20 organizations, both locally and globally.


Inspired by his father, who served as Chair of the Guelph City Planning Board in the 1940s, Paul has been volunteering since he was a child growing up in Guelph, Ontario. “My father was very active in the community and he always encouraged me to be involved and give back to my community — to give time and be as generous as I could be from a philanthropic point of view.”


Over the years, Paul’s volunteerism traveled with him from the University of Waterloo where he received his engineering degree to many organizations in Burlington, Sarnia, North York and finally in Ottawa where the Kochs permanently laid down their roots after IBM transferred them here in 1980.


During his time working for IBM, Paul would reach out to colleagues to help raise funds for a variety of charitable causes.“Often when I would call business associates, they would ask, ‘Who are you raising money for now ?’”, Paul laughed.


In Ottawa, he has contributed his time and energy to organizations such as The Ottawa Symphony Orchestra, The Riverside Hospital Foundation (now the OutCare Foundation), EnviroCentre, The City of Ottawa Environmental Advisory Committee, the Ottawa Sustainability Fund at the Community Foundation and most recently the LPGA’s Canadian Pacific Women’s Open as the Ecology Committee Co-Chair.


In their retirement, Paul and Marilyn enjoy golfing and traveling. However, they still spend time giving back to their community. “Volunteering is one way we keep ourselves busy and feel that we are making a contribution.” He added with a smile, “We don’t know how we had time to work!” While they had previously donated to the Heart Institute, since Paul’s heart attack in 2009, the Kochs have made annual gifts to the Institute which are supported by IBM’s 50% Matching Grant Program for retirees. In 2014 when redoing their wills it therefore only seemed natural to leave a legacy gift to support long term priorities.  “We will continue to support the Heart Institute annually as well as leaving the legacy gift because of the great work that is done there.”


“I owe a lot to the Heart Institute,” Paul expressed. “We’ve been so blessed. ” The Kochs’ legacy will undoubtedly be one of service, and the Heart Institute is certainly grateful to be a part of their giving plans.


When you leave a legacy gift to the University of Ottawa Heart Institute Foundation, you become a member of the Wilbert J. Keon Legacy Society and will become part of providing ongoing support that funds patient care, research, the Canadian Women’s Heart Health Centre, the most urgent needs of the Heart Institute, among other initiatives and innovations. Your gift will not only help save and improve the lives of others, but it will help you to leave a lasting legacy you can be proud of. To learn more about including the Heart Institute in your Will, please contact the Legacy Gifts team at 613-696-7251 or

Home for the Holidays

My name is Eric Auger.

This Christmas, I’m excited to say I will be home for the holidays, able to see my son’s face as he opens his presents. And I’ll be able to give him a hug and kiss.

I wasn’t able to do that last year.

That’s because, after a seven-month wait of being on a transplant list, I received a call on December 11, 2016—telling me a heart had been found for me.

Within 48 hours, I not only had a new heart—but an entirely new lease on life.


A rough start

I was born with congenital heart disease and—prior to my heart surgery—had 13 surgeries in the first three decades of my life. I also had a pacemaker by the time I was 12!

I was only 14 months old when I had my first heart operation. During surgery, I didn’t get enough oxygen to my brain, which caused some brain damage and a mild case of cerebral palsy.

At age three or four, doctors told my mother that I wouldn’t ever be able to walk.

However, my mom wouldn’t put me in a wheelchair. She believed I would walk again. And she was right. I didn’t start walking until I was six…but I still did it.


A pretty normal childhood

You may be surprised by this, but I didn’t really feel physical pain when I was younger. My heart condition was quite manageable.

Still, growing up, kids weren’t always nice to me. They basically laughed at me because my cerebral palsy made me shake so much.

I also had a very small frame and because of my condition, wasn’t really able to do much physical activity. However, I could sometimes play road hockey, soccer and baseball with my closest friends, who understood I had a heart condition (they took it a bit easier on me.)

Life was actually pretty normal. Keep in mind, I was used to having this condition and dealt with it very much on my own, asking for a little help here and there…but not very much.

By the time I was a teenager, you could say I had a pretty typical life: partying, and hanging out with friends and girlfriends. I wasn’t as good with taking my medication as I could have been, but life was pretty good.

It really wasn’t until adulthood that things changed.


Cardiac arrest

In my mid-20s, I was beginning to slow down a lot, and didn’t know what was wrong with me.

I didn’t tell anyone. But I should have—because at age 29, I had my first cardiac arrest.

I died that day: they actually pronounced me dead for an hour.

I had no brain activity, no oxygen, no nothing. I was told that the paramedics worked on me for an hour straight.

I went into a coma at the Heart Institute for almost two weeks.

Somehow, I pulled out of it and went back to feeling perfectly normal.

But that was just temporary. Unfortunately, this was only the beginning of my troubles.


Total hell

I had three more heart attacks over the next 4-5 years—and was pronounced dead two more of those times.

I refer to that period of my life as total hell—for me, as well as my family, who had to see me suffer.

Eventually, the team at the Heart Institute said I had two options: either put my name on the transplant list, or die slowly.

I was only 34.

It may surprise you, but it was a hard decision in a way. The main reason is my heart flipped upside-down when I was born—so all my arteries, vessels and blood flow were backward. Basically, my anatomy is different than most.

Despite this, I decided to go on the transplant list in early 2016. But by September of last year, I had been in and out of the hospital every month.

As a result, my name was accelerated closer to the top of the list.


The phone call

I got the call on December 11, 2016: a new heart was available.

I literally think if I hadn’t gotten that phone call, I wouldn’t have made it past Christmas. I was so sick by that time, I could barely walk up two stairs without catching my breath.

I went to the Heart Institute the next day.

I was warned there was a possibility I could die on the table. But I had already been at peace even before I heard a heart was available. Sitting in there in the bed, waiting to be wheeled down to the operating room at the Heart Institute…I was ready. It was either I live or I die.

Thankfully, with help from the Heart Institute, I survived—and thrived.


When I woke up, I had a lot of chest discomfort because the surgeons had to break a couple ribs to get in there. It hurt a lot!

But the staff got me up and moving within two days.

And in less than a month, I was able to return home.

It probably took about three months before I could actually move and do stuff. (My wife wouldn’t let me do anything!)

But over time, my health began to improve.

It’s been over a year now, and I continue to go to the Heart Institute for biopsies, which measure how my heart is doing. I used to go for biopsies twice a week for four weeks. Then it was once a week. Then, once a month. Now, it’s every three months.

If all goes well, I won’t have to have another biopsy for six months. And then, I will only have to have one every year.

The Heart Institute has been great in terms of the care I’ve received. I know most of the nurses there—they’ve been great and helped me out a lot. Once, I even received a personal email from one of them, just checking in on me. It’s a great feeling to know that people there actually care about you and want to help you.

I also have to give credit to my wife and mother for their support through all this. To my mom, who never put me in that wheelchair and kept me going. And to my wife, who kept picking me up when I was down. Any time I wanted to give up, she kept picking me up, dusting me off and getting me going. If not for both of them, I don’t think I would be here today.

And of course, I am very grateful to the person whose heart I now have. While I don’t know them, I feel very honoured and thankful for this second chance at life.


Back to life

Today, I am feeling 100% better, healthier, and much more energetic.

I no longer have congenital heart disease. No more pacemaker, defibrillator or bad heart. They took out everything, and now I’m normal—for the first time in my life.

Now, I can play sports. I even volunteered this past summer as an assistant coach for my son’s baseball team.

And this past August, I went with my wife, son and parents to Vancouver for a 10-day vacation. That was something I wouldn’t have been able to do within the last four years.


Christmas and plans for the new year

I couldn’t wait to spend this Christmas with my son and family. As a personal treat, I even bought myself a ticket to see the Ottawa Senators play an outdoor game at TD Place in mid-December—almost a year to the day that I received my new heart.

As for 2018, I hope to return to the working world—hopefully in some sort of cooking position. My goal is to start six months from now. I’m working on building my strength. I walk my son to school every day, and exercise mostly every day. The last few years, I wasn’t able to do any of that stuff.

Meanwhile, I’m also enjoying waking up every morning to my seven-year-old son jumping on me. All that stuff I went through, I did for him. I love him more than anything in the world.

Message to donors

It doesn’t really matter what kind of donation you make, whether financial or otherwise. But if you’re considering making a donation, I encourage you to give to places like the Ottawa Heart Institute, and to please sign your organ donor card.

You really never know who you’re going to save, but there are people in this world who need your help.

People like me.



Holiday Messages

When it comes to the Heart Institute, our community is always generous. This holiday season, it  was with words of encouragement to the patients and gratitude to the staff through a Holiday Messages mail program the Foundation promoted in November. Here is a selection of some of  the greetings we received for the patients and staff.


Alpha Phi Red Dress Canadian Womens Heart Health Centre Ottawa Heart Institute

Party your heart out: local sorority chapter holds 4th annual Red Dress Gala to raise funds for women’s heart health

There’s more to a red dress than material! Just ask the ladies of Alpha Phi.

Alpha Phi (pronounced “Alpha Fee”) is an international sorority boasting more than 200,000 members, with a presence on more than 170 campuses throughout North America.

The organization has been around since 1872—however, representation in Ottawa is still relatively new.

In fact, it was only three short years ago that Alpha Phi established a chapter at the University of Ottawa.

That chapter is led in part by Chattalie Jayatilaka, VP of Campus Affairs for Alpha Phi Iota Upsilon (the Greek name of the local chapter).

Like most (if not all) sororities, service is a core value for Alpha Phi. As such, chapters regularly host a variety of local service opportunities throughout the year, encouraging members as well as the general public to give back.

Supporting women’s heart health has always been a major focal point for the sorority. It was highlighted as an important cause during Alpha Phi’s first convention in 1946 held in Quebec—when, says Chattalie, the organization decided it needed an international cause they could “give their all to.”

“Right from the beginning, Alpha Phi had the idea of helping to fight a disease that was affecting a majority of women on a large scale.” Interestingly, adds Chattalie, “Even today, we understand that heart disease is the number-one killer of women in North American—but it’s still a huge surprise to people. Everyone seems to think that it’s cancer. And when we talk to people, it’s shocking to us that women have no idea how prevalent it is and how many of us might even be affected.”

As such, Chattalie and her chapter spend a great deal of time throughout the year educating others on campus about women’s heart health, holding blood drives and fundraising bake sales, and promoting heart-healthy activities to their peers.

This year, the Ottawa chapter will also host its fourth annual Red Dress Gala: a fundraising event to support “heart health organizations” including the University of Ottawa Heart Institute Foundation.

The 2017 gala will be held November 11th at the Lago Bar and Grill on Dow’s Lake. Building on the success of other chapters’ galas, Chattalie acknowledges that the local event has certainly grown since its “early days.”

The Alpha Phi Red Dress Gala raised over $1500 in 2016

“This will be our fourth gala,” says Chattalie. “In September 2014 when we first started the chapter, we only had a few members and our goal at that time was to raise $1,000. That first gala was in February 2015—not giving us a lot of time to plan! But we hit our goal. And every year since then, we’ve raised the bar a bit higher each time.”

This year, Alphi Phi Iota Upsilon’s goal is to raise $5,000 toward heart health.

“We have 100 girls this year working on the event, and we’re inviting more than 300 people and tickets are available to the public, so I’m pretty optimistic that our group will do its part to meet our financial goals,” says Chattalie.

Half of the funds raised from the Red Dress Gala will go toward the Heart Institute Foundation to support programs and initiatives at the Canadian Women’s Heart Health Centre, with the remainder going to the Alpha Phi Foundation’s Heart to Heart Grant. Since 2014, this $100,000 annual grant has been awarded to hospitals and research facilities that are making breakthroughs in better understanding heart attacks, heart disease and strokes in women—specifically its symptoms, treatment and prevention.

In the week leading up to the gala, Alpha Phi Iota Upsilon will man a table on campus to raise money and awareness about women’s heart health, and encourage students to take life-saving classes in CPR skills training.

But that’s not where Alpha Phi’s commitment to the cause ends, says Chattalie: on an international level, the sorority is also known to help its own members.

“Our entire executive goes to an annual conference every year, and one of the girls had heart disease and needed a heart transplant,” she recalls. “Obviously, things are different in the US in terms of health care. Alpha Phi paid for everything for her—all her bills. And now, she’s doing great.”


Attend the Red Dress Gala!

The gala is open to anyone who wants to support women’s heart health. Join Chattalie, Alpha Phi, politicians, Heart Institute employees and other community leaders and supporters this November 11th at the 4th annual Red Dress Gala. Tickets are now available for purchase through



Kaufmans Legacy Gift Honours Humanitarian Couple’s Commitment to Education and Philanthropy

Legacy Gift Honours Humanitarian Couple’s Commitment to Education and Philanthropy

Dr. Hyman (Hy) Kaufman and his wife, Dr. Sylvia Van Straten Kaufman spent their lives committed to making a powerful impact on future generations. A shared passion for philanthropy, research, and education, together with a strong belief in the potential of rapid developments in cardiology, inspired the Kaufmans to leave a legacy with a generous gift to the University of Ottawa Heart Institute.

Often, the choice to leave a legacy gift in your Will stems from each donor’s personal experience – the Kaufmans were no different. In 1980, following Hy’s retirement from McGill University where he was a Professor of Mathematics (and where he and Sylvia met and married in 1959), the Kaufmans moved to Ottawa. In 1988, Hy became a patient of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute as a result of a heart attack. In 1995, he underwent double bypass surgery and an aortic valve replacement – the Kaufman’s Endowment Fund and the beginning of their legacy would begin just 5 years later.

The Drs. Kaufman started the Dr. Hyman and Dr. Sylvia Van Straten Kaufman Endowment Fund at the Heart Institute in 2000 and for over 15 years, the fund supported the Institute’s annual Kaufman Grand Round Lecture, enabling medical professionals to learn, grow, and exchange knowledge and ideas. Many esteemed lecturers have participated in this annual event, including specialists from world-class hospitals such as The Cleveland Clinic, and from as far away as Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates.

In addition, the Kaufmans’ legacy gift supported the creation of the Dr. Hyman and Dr. Sylvia Van Straten Kaufman and Dr. Kwan-Leung Chan Fellowship in Echocardiography. This fellowship honours the Kaufmans’ wishes to transform their legacy gift so that it would have greater impact on research and education in the field of cardiac medicine.

The Kaufmans’ gift also had significant impact on the Heart Institute’s new building, slated for completion in March of 2018. Their gift contributed to the purchase of highly specialized medical equipment, and to development and outfitting of patient-focused care facilities such as the unique and innovative Hybrid Operating Room.

The Kaufmans were academics – Hy held Ph.D.s in Mathematics and Physics while Sylvia’s Ph.D. was in Chemistry – who also shared a deep love and appreciation for art in all forms: music, poetry, painting and more. Four paintings created by the couple, two each by Hy and Sylvia, now adorn the walls of the Kaufman Training Centre at Hillel Lodge, yet another example of the Kaufman’s commitment to leaving a legacy in and for their community.

Both Hy and Sylvia displayed their humanity by impacting others through education and charitable giving throughout their lives. Hy continued to grow the fund at the Heart Institute in her honour after Sylvia’s passing in 2006 and, following Hy’s passing in 2014, the full extent of their gift was conferred upon the Heart Institute and it is our esteemed honour to continue their legacy.


When you leave a legacy gift to the University of Ottawa Heart Institute Foundation, you become a member of the Wilbert J. Keon Legacy Society and will become part of providing ongoing support that funds patient care, research, The Canadian Women’s Heart Health Centre, the most urgent needs of the Heart Institute, among other initiatives and innovations. Your gift will not only help save and improve the lives of others, but it will help you to leave a lasting legacy you can be proud of. To learn more about including the Heart Institute in your Will, please contact the Legacy Gifts team at 613-696-7251 or