At St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, Marc’s life soon settled into a routine of sorts. Once the decision had been made that transplant was the only option, he was subjected to daily tests, medication tweaks, vaccines, and even dentistry! The cardiac team at St. Paul’s knew exactly what was needed for the best outcome, so all resources were dedicated to getting Marc as healthy as possible to receive his new heart.
Carson remembers that time a little differently.
“When I arrived, my sister and her boyfriend were there with my dad in his room. I had never seen him so sick. I just had this pins-and-needles feeling all over my body, doing everything I could not to break down.
“There are all these tests to do. Is he even a viable candidate? And if he fails one test, that’s it, there’s nothing more that can be done.”
Carson explains that in order to survive until a donor heart was available, his dad would have to have a mechanical device – called an LVAD (Left Ventricular Assist Device) – surgically implanted and attached to his body at all times. This device was a lifesaver, but it made life very complicated for Marc and his family.
“And then he got to the point where he had passed all the tests. So then we had to learn about the LVAD machine. You don’t really understand what ‘transplant’ means. You find a heart, throw it in, and there you go, right? But with the LVAD, there is so much for the family to learn and be aware of, because we’re the ones who will be his caregivers.”
In fact, Marc would need to stay in Vancouver for three months as an outpatient, to stabilise and demonstrate that he could live independently with the life-saving machine attached to his body. Marc worried about the time to come… how would they manage? How would they pay for everything? He was touched by the energy and dedication of his children. He knew they had it in them because he knew his children! But he found new depths in their commitment to caring for him.
“First was learning about the machine. How the batteries work, how to change them, the proper sequence of things. Learning what signs to look for, learning how to do basic things like shower without getting the machine wet. We felt like anything could go wrong at any time, so we were hyper-vigilant. It was exhausting.
“Then there was a written test. My dad, my sister, her boyfriend, and I all took it. Then we had to get Dad settled in his temporary accommodation, and figure out how to pay for it.”
That’s when Jewish Family Services came in. This whole event was a huge hardship on his family, and Marc was so worried about focusing on his health when there were so many other things to worry about. He needed his heart to be number one.
It was Marc’s rabbi who suggested he call us, and Donna, a social worker and Outreach Counselor with JFS, came out to visit him right away.
“After sitting and speaking with Marc for quite some time, I was really inspired by his story and his strength. It’s not often that I shed a tear when I meet people and hear their story, but I was especially moved by Marc and his physical and mental stamina.
“Marc is one of those clients that remind me why I do what I do. I left his apartment uplifted, inspired, and grateful.”
Marc’s request for emergency financial aid is exactly the kind of need Jewish Family Services hopes to always have the capacity to respond to. Marc and his family were already doing everything they could to deal with this unexpected, life-changing event, but their pooled resources just couldn’t stretch that far.
Thanks to the support of donors, JFS was able to help Marc right away, and soon, he was ensconced in his temporary accommodations.