Nick Kanaan would like the people whose donations paid for the artificial lung machine known as an ECMO (for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) at Vancouver general Hospital (VGH) to know how very thankful he is.
“I would not be here without them,” Kanaan said.
As a result, the 35-year old dad, who lives in Clayton Heights near the Langley-Surrey border, can take deep breaths.
Kanaan was born with cystic fibrosis (CF), an inherited disorder that would cause irreversible damage to his lungs and leave him on the brink of death in 2019.
In October 2017, while on a work trip to Toronto, he started having difficulty breathing.
His parents — who reside in Ontario — came and drove him to a nearby hospital.
“I entered through the emergency room and a nurse immediately hooked me up to oxygen and said, It’s good you did not get on that airplane,” Kanaan recalled.
He was hospitalized for two and a half months.
By 2019, tests of his breathing strength and capacity were discouraging, and his doctors were discussing a transplant.
Then, he caught an infection.
“This time I was like, ‘You know what? Let’s just deal with it right away’,” said Kanaan. “I got hooked up on home IV. And after a couple weeks I was starting to feel a little better.”
Then, he woke up one night and started coughing up blood.
His wife Lindsay roused to the sounds of Nick coughing, choking and gasping for air. Kanaan felt like he was drowning.
“I’ll never forget that,” says Lindsay.
“I honestly thought I might die right then,” he recalled.
For a month after the incident Lindsay would shoot awake at the slightest noise Kanaan made. She even started dreaming about it.
Kanaan was using six to seven litres of oxygen per day and was still struggling to breathe.
The damage had started restricting his breathing to the point where he needed something more than oxygen. He needed a way to breathe without his lungs.
Dr. Hussein Kanji, Kanaan’s primary physician at VGH said the goal was to get him in the “best basic physiologic state so that he can be a good transplant recipient. And the only way really to do that was to provide ECMO.”
Three and a half weeks later VGH received a lung donor. It was a match.
Two days after the operation he was taken off ECMO.
These days Kannan is nearly back to a normal life.
“For the first time in my life I laid on Nick’s chest and I listened to him take in these deep, wonderful breaths,” said Lindsay. “I can’t describe that feeling.”
Kanaan wanted to share his story in support of the Burn Fund, VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation, and the Hometown Heroes Lottery.
The 2021 #HometownHeroes Lottery is now SOLD OUT!
— Hometown Heroes (@heroeslottery) May 20, 2021
Returning to his point about gratitude, he’s eternally grateful to VGH, and specifically the Hometown Heroes Lottery that helped make the purchase of the ECMO possible.
The Hometown Heroes ticket purchased raise funds for the most urgent hospital needs, and supports resilience-building programs for burn survivors and firefighters.
Proceeds also support specialized adult health services and research for British Columbians and drive innovation and sustainable health care at VGH, UBC Hospital, GF Strong Rehab Centre, Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute and Vancouver Community Health Services.
The 2021 lottery sold out this past weekend, with the draw for the grand prize in late July.
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