On the morning of June 11, 1998, Gale O’Brien suffered a pulmonary embolism on the GO Train while commuting to work.
“I don’t know if it was fate, but the ambulance was already on its way to Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital (OTMH). It took me right to OTMH, the hospital with the best cardiac care centre at the time.”
Gale was a single mother. The fear of losing her life went beyond herself. She was worried about her two young boys.
“If I hadn’t gone to OTMH, I wouldn't be here today,” says Gale.
When Gale arrived at OTMH, she was given CPR for forty-five minutes. Dr. George Southey was able to quickly diagnose the pulmonary embolism, a blockage in the lung artery caused by a blood clot, and save Gale’s life by giving her medication to dissolve the clot that was blocking and disrupting the flow of blood to the brain.
“The doctors were surprised that I still had my memory after having no vital signs for ten minutes,” says Gale. “It’s a miracle.”
Richard (Dick), Gale’s then boyfriend and now husband, recalls Gale being on a ventilator and in a coma for 3 days. For the entirety of Gale’s ICU stay, Dick waited tirelessly on Gale’s recuperation. After twelve days, Gale recovered and was sent home.
Since her pulmonary embolism, OTMH has always held a special place in Gale’s heart. Even during the recovery of her pulmonary embolism, Gale requested donations to Oakville Hospital Foundation instead of flowers at her bedside.
“Hospitals are extremely worthy causes, and for my husband and I, sharing is very important,” says Gale.
Twenty-three years later, Gale and her husband own a maple syrup business. Dick owned a property with many maple trees, and “tapping” these trees for maple syrup went from a hobby to a flourishing business. Because of the care Gale received at OTMH that day, she is able to run a business with her husband, and give back to the hospital that saved her.
“Shortly after being discharged from OTMH, I decided to put the hospital in my will,” says Gale. “Although I live far from OTMH now, I have a very special connection to that hospital.”
Both Gale and Dick received lifesaving care at hospitals that they deem worthy to be included in their estate plans, alongside their children.