Heather’s Story

Heather Thiessen began imagining herself as a nurse when she was still a young girl. She looked forward to a career in which she could help sick and injured people get well and remembers her excitement when, in her early twenties, she was accepted into nursing school.

Then Heather’s health took a turn for the worse, and her life plan took an abrupt 180-degree turn. Her dream of providing lifesaving care to others was replaced with the reality of urgently needing that care for herself.

Heather is alive today because of the emergency and follow-up care she has received at Royal University Hospital – her life saved not once, not twice, but 10 times over the past 30 years. She’s been intubated more than 15 times and has had two tracheostomies at RUH, each time subsequently returning home to her husband and daughters. “I am deeply grateful to the doctors, nurses and other members of my care team at RUH who provide such exceptional care at my time of greatest need,” says Heather.

Living with multiple sclerosis and myasthenia gravis (two chronic, and sometimes critical, neurological conditions), coupled with a weakened immune system and a life-threatening allergy to latex, has made Heather a recipient-perspective expert on the emergency and critical care provided by the medical teams at RUH.

Because of her ongoing interaction with the hospital’s Emergency Department, Heather was asked in 2011 to be part of the team responsible for the layout and design of RUH’s new Adult E.R., currently under construction and slated for completion in late 2019. “It truly is a department being built with love, and with the patient and family at its centre,” says Heather.

Royal University Hospital Foundation’s GREATE.R. Campaign is raising $7 million for the new Adult Emergency Department.

Your donation, big or small, will help save lives! To donate, please click here or call Lisa Sands, Senior Development Officer, at 306.655.6477.