Stories With HeartShowing Gratitude Near and Far

Posted on: Jul 26, 2023

In the fall of 2022, Betty Swanson suffered from heart failure and ended up at the CK Hui Heart Centre where she underwent emergency surgery that saved her life.

Betty Swanson hails from Chauvin, Alberta, a small village close to the Saskatchewan border. She is a retired municipal administrator, a mother of four, a grandmother to ten, and a great-grandmother to seven.

One fall night in 2022, Betty started having pain in her shoulder and chest. While she’d experienced shoulder pain in the past, this time felt different. Late that evening, Betty called her son-in-law to drive her to the nearest hospital, 50 kilometres away in Provost, Alberta.

Doctors immediately began running tests and administered a “clot buster”–a treatment used to dissolve blood clots and restart blood flow to the heart. Though Betty showed signs of improvement, within a few hours of arriving at the local hospital, she was transferred by air to Edmonton for further treatment.

Betty ended up at the Royal Alex and was taken directly to the catheterization lab in the CK Hui Heart Centre, where she had stents put in three arteries.

During her stay at the hospital, Betty noted the outstanding care she received. “The treatment I received from the beginning in Provost straight through to the CK Hui was excellent. In the Critical Care Unit, it was almost like one-on-one care. The nurses, doctors, and support staff were just amazing.”

After her experience, Betty decided to donate to the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation. Betty hopes the funds will be used to educate people about heart health– both for preventative care and so that people can learn more about recognizing the signs of a heart attack.

When Betty’s shoulder pain first started, she says she initially wasn’t even sure she was having a heart attack–that the pain felt different than usual, but not how you might see a heart attack portrayed in the movies.

Had she not trusted her instincts and called for help, she might not be here today telling her story.

“I think people need to be more aware of their bodies and treat their bodies better. I am a part of a Facebook group for women who’ve had heart attacks. The signs of a heart attack are different for women. Advocate for yourself and insist that your doctor checks you out accordingly.”

Click here to read the story's original appearance in our 2023 Annual Gratitude Report

Click here to make a donation to the CK Hui Heart Centre