Terry’s Story

Hello, my name is Terry Schrader. I am alive today thanks to donors like you. And because of your generosity in support of the life-saving care at Royal University Hospital, I have been given a second chance to be with my family and celebrate with them all that life has to offer.

The reason I am writing you today is to express my gratitude. It is also to encourage you to make a donation so that hundreds of other patients may be as fortunate as me in having their lives extended thanks to the Heart Function Clinic at Royal University Hospital. As a result of the care I have received throughout my journey from RUH’s Heart Function Clinic and my heart transplant, I have been able to see some of my hopes and dreams come true. In 2014 I walked our daughter down the wedding aisle. In 2017 I held our grandson. This year I will see our son graduate from the University of Saskatchewan.

I also have accomplished things that I never thought I could do like participating in several five kilometer runs. I have participated in the 2016 Canadian Transplant Games winning two gold medals, one silver and one bronze.

Giving is at the heart of our Saskatchewan community. For that, I and my wife Selena and our two children are forever grateful. The reason for our immense gratitude today had its genesis in events that began in 2001.

This is my story and how past donor support helped save my life . . . 

I was 41 years old and was working at three jobs. I weighed 220 pounds, considered myself relatively healthy and was fortunate not to have had many reasons in the past to access medical care. But after a couple of weeks of not feeling well and some coaxing from my wife, I went to see my doctor. Tests revealed my heart was enlarged and it was struggling to pump. I was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a disease that makes it harder for one’s heart to pump blood to the rest of the body.

You can only imagine my shock at hearing this news. I quickly learned that heart failure is a chronic and progressive condition needing lifelong management. There is no cure. However, with lifestyle changes and treatment options including a possible heart transplant, one can manage one’s condition very well. All this was easier said than done 15 years ago.

I was fortunate to have my wife’s support in navigating the health-care system back then, but despite our best efforts, the Emergency Department became our go-to position when things progressed out of control.

Relief came in 2010, thanks to the efforts of Royal University Hospital Foundation and its donors who helped to fund a new program called the Heart Function Clinic at RUH. Its purpose: using a multidisciplinary approach, the clinic provides a comprehensive, systematic approach to drug therapy, patient education that focuses on medication use, exercise therapy, self-care, and intensive follow-up in order to improve patient outcomes and decrease hospital admissions.

The creation of the Heart Function Clinic, through donor support, was a godsend. It was instrumental in helping me get to the next phase of my life – being a heart transplant recipient.

When I entered the Heart Function Clinic program, I was told by my Cardiologist, Dr. Akhtar, the healthier you are going into surgery the better your chances of recovery.

RUH’s Health Function Clinic team was exemplar in their care and compassion. They were a wonderful one-stop resource. Rochelle dealt with all my dietary concerns. Patrick provided education regarding my medications and helping obtain financial coverage for them. Dylan and Elaine monitored my exercise program in order to keep me in the best physical condition I could be for my upcoming surgery and recovery. Linda (Nurse) always answered my “crisis” calls and saved me many emergency room visits. Val (Social Worker) provided information related to my post-surgery visits to Edmonton where the heart transplantation would take place.

In 2013, I travelled to Edmonton to receive my new heart, and on Valentine’s Day I was discharged. I was able to return home to Saskatoon a few weeks earlier than normal because of the respect my Edmonton health-care team had for the RUH Heart Function Clinic and the support it would be able to provide should I encounter any post-transplant problems.

My family and I are so appreciative of everything the Heart Function Clinic has done for us thanks to support from donors like you. Because of you, on August 17, 2013, Selena and I renewed our wedding vows – I had married her with my original heart then I married her with my new one.

Today, the Heart Function Clinic provides support to more than 400 people from across the province. In order to meet the growing demand on its services and to be able to introduce new innovative approaches in heart health care, Royal University Hospital Foundation is raising $100,000 in support of critical care priorities like enhancing the Heart Function Clinic’s equipment and program.

Thanks to donors like you, the Heart Function Clinic will introduce a new out-patient Intravenous Infusion Therapy Program to deliver IV diuretic therapy without the need to admit the patient to hospital. In addition, cardiac biomarker tests will be introduced. Biomarkers are substances that are released into the blood when the heart is damaged or stressed. Measurement of these biomarkers is used to help diagnose, monitor and manage people with suspected acute coronary syndrome and cardiac ischemia. Your donation will help patients better self-manage their condition in a supportive environment.

These new initiatives, through your generous support, will provide the Heart Function Clinic and its wonderful interdisciplinary team with additional new ways in helping save and enhance the lives of so many. Dads, moms, grandmas, grandpas, sisters, brothers and friends will return home to their loved ones because someone like you chooses to donate.

Sincerely,

Terry Schrader
Heart Function Clinic Alumnus

P.S. Your donation, no matter the size, has such incredible power. Your contribution will have a direct benefit for families in Saskatchewan who may not even know they need help until the moment they do.
Thank you!