Calgary Health Foundation

The Heart of the Matter

Margot Kitchen is...The Heart of the Matter

A grandmother
A mother
A wife
A yogi
A traveller
A philanthropist
A community leader
A picture of health - until she wasn't.

In her 70s, Margot Kitchen was the picture of health. As a yogi, her spirituality helped her stay very attuned to her body. She ate the right things, stayed active through her yoga practice and even took the time to extend her teaching to training many others. She and her husband David celebrated life to the fullest, travelling to India, Mexico and Europe and spending time with their family. Like every proud grandparent, she looked for ways to connect with her grandchildren through dance recitals and hockey tournaments.

Life was everything she could hope for. Then, while preparing to host a yoga seminar, Margot felt something change. Her entire life was about to be put on hold.

"I had this unbelievable pain that went straight through from the front of my chest to the back and I knew something awful was happening ," says Margot, "I said (to those at the retreat) somebody call an ambulance I am having a heart attack." But it was worse than that.

Suffering from a dissected aorta, Margot was rushed to the cardiac unit under the care of Dr. Jehangir Appoo. With multiple tears in the inner wall of the aorta, Margot's blood was flowing between the layers causing blood loss. Needing to work quickly, Dr. Appoo used a hybrid surgery technique, allowing him to repair the arch of the aorta in one surgery instead of two. A type of surgery requiring pin-point precision, Dr. Appoo had approximately one millimetre before he would reach a major part of the aorta that pushes blood to the brain.

Even with an amazing surgeon caring for her the road to recovery has been long. Margot has undergone two extensive surgeries, spent a month in the hospital, and unfortunately had complications. Now recovering at home the experience has taken a toll on her body.

"I've had to put so many things that are important to me on hold," says Margot. "I've had to limit my (yoga) practice, including forgoing my usual trip to India to study with my guru and my time hanging upside down with my grandchildren in my studio." But Margot refuses to let this set her back from living her life how she wants. "My friends all say to me that I am the last person they thought would have cardiac problems because I am the healthiest person they know," explains Margot. "But you can't prepare for everything  especially where genetics are concerned."

There are many people who will benefit from a Cardiac Hybrid OR. And in an emergency situation the Cardiac Hybrid OR may get someone like Margot back on their feet and living their life again sooner.

It is people like Margot who are the reason Calgary Health Trust is heading a $5.1 million campaign to fund a Cardiac Hybrid O.R. as part of The Heart Project. Money raised through key donors and special events, like Foothills Cabaret will go towards the purchase of equipment needed to bring this state-of-the-art cardiac operating room to Calgary.

The new O.R. will enable clinicians to work together in treating complex heart conditions, lessening the number of procedures each patient requires. The availability of state-of-the-art technology allows for less invasive procedures and shortens recovery time, returning patients to their lives and families as quickly as possible.

Learn more about The Heart Project and how you can get involved.