SAGA Drummer Brian Doerner: "If I'd Been On The Plane, I'd Be Dead"

February 5, 2008, 10 years ago

saga news rock hard

TheRecord.com has posted the following report from Anne Kelly:

BlackBerry-carrying specialists at Kitchener's cardiac centre can now receive crucial data from paramedics to determine if heart attack victims should be rushed in for life-saving angioplasty.

Getting an electrocardiogram readout to a BlackBerry, via a cellphone at the scene, takes less than a minute. And it eliminates a trip to the nearest emergency department for patients with a suddenly blocked main artery. Instead, they're taken straight to the cardiac centre.

The locally devised relay system being used by St. Mary's Regional Cardiac Care Centre and Waterloo Region Emergency Medical Service is believed to be the first of its kind in Canada.

Dr. Suzanne Renner, an interventional cardiologist at the centre, called the accomplishment "huge, particularly because I think the community (cardiac) centres have a reputation for not being as cutting edge as university centres."

Computer experts from the cardiac centre and Region of Waterloo came up with a way to transfer the information using existing BlackBerry and Bell Mobility technology.

They chose the BlackBerry to receive the information because of its superior security, resolution and speed.

"It's such a critical time frame," said Renner, one of four interventional cardiologists who do angioplasty at St. Mary's. "You want to get the artery open as quickly as possible. It's all about speed."

The longer the part of the heart that is affected by the blockage is deprived of a blood supply, the more damage to the heart muscle and the greater the risk to the patient's survival and quality of life.

A balloon-tipped catheter can clear the blockage and keep the artery open with the insertion of a wire stent.

"We've had some cases where you essentially almost abort the heart attack and have almost no damage at all."

Brian Doerner, a Kitchener resident and veteran drummer of rock bands SAGA and HELIX, was the first of three patients treated so far under the new protocol, which started last fall.

According to hospital records, 77 minutes passed between the Oct. 5 electrocardiogram he got at home and the opening of his artery in hospital.

This is well below the international benchmark of less than 90 minutes for what's called "door-to-balloon" time. The quickest of the three cases was 36 minutes, the average 58 minutes.

The cardiac centre expects to treat about 24 patients this year under the new protocol. It is available only during the lab's daytime hours, five days a week. The centre doesn't have funding for an expanded program. After-hours patients get a clot-busting drug.

Doerner, then 49, had just arrived home from a gig the night before in Barrie. After eating onion rings for lunch, he experienced arm and chest pain and had his wife call 911. Two weeks later, he was set to leave on a six-week tour of Europe.

"If I'd been on the plane, I'd be dead," he said. "They saved my life."

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