Jane Donald

From childhood, Jane had a very personal connection with cardiovascular disease learning the importance of heart health, first hand. Her father had his first heart attack at the age of 42, and several other family members experienced heart disease. For Jane, healthy living became an important part of her upbringing. As an adult, Jane continued to live a healthy lifestyle by getting involved in a variety of physical activities and pursuing her passion for skiing. 

At a certain point, however, Jane found her commitments to her children, her family and daily responsibilities, left her with little time to pay attention to her own health.

“I believe as mothers and wives, women put the welfare of their families first at the expense of their own health. At least I did,” Jane says.   

This all changed when Jane’s intuition kicked in.

Not feeling herself, she went to her doctor and proceeded to receive a number of tests. And while her cholesterol was a little high, her stress test and echocardiogram seemed to show that everything was fine.

However, Jane still felt that something was amiss. Her heartbeat would sometimes race for no reason, and when her blood pressure and heart rate continued to rise as well, Jane was entered into the Fraser Health Authority’s iConnect Health Network. She began to get active in the program’s various classes and activities to improve her heart health.

Then one day just minutes after beginning her exercise routine, she felt a pain – something that was different than anything she had previously experienced. 

Her doctor quickly referred her to the Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster to have an emergency angiogram. During the angiogram, Jane’s severe chest pain continued to intensify. She quickly learned she had a serious complication: her left main coronary artery had dissected, and required multiple stents.

Jane’s life was saved in a span of three and a half minutes when two blockages – one at 80 per cent and one at 90 percent – were relieved by four coronary stents.

“I was awake for the whole experience, which was surreal” recants Jane. “I was as close to death as you can get without dying.”

This was May 1, 2011

Now with a new lease on life, Jane is working hard to make her heart strong again. 

She is learning to row with the Nicomekl Rowing Club, and is currently training an hour and a half every day. She aspires to one day race on the River Thames in London.

“For me, I feel very fortunate. Not everybody gets the chance that I was given. I am making death wait” Jane says enthusiastically.