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Greetings. My name is Stephen Winter, and I’m from Oakville, Ontario. I want to share my story about chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension disorder.

It all happened on Saturday, April 4, 2020. I went to work as usual as a front-line healthcare worker in a retirement home where I've been working for almost seven years. I arrived at work with shortness of breath, and my right leg felt like concrete and impossible to walk. My shift was 7-3, and halfway through the day, I felt uncomfortable. I was sweating profusely, I couldn't see, and my fingers felt like jello - absolutely no feeling. It was extremely frustrating working with seniors who were in their 80s, and here I was, 48 years old, on the verge of a medical emergency. I called out for help on the two-way radio, and nothing happened. I repeated twice and got no answer. My supervisor, who wasn't a nurse, only a business manager, thought it was Covid-19 and asked me to leave the property immediately.

I tried to drive home, but eventually, I passed out, lost control of my car and crashed into a tree. Several passersby saw the accident and called 911. I was placed in an ambulance and rushed off to Oakville Trafalgar memorial hospital. Several people were there checking me out. I had an MRI and a CAT scan. It was discovered that I had a stroke. I was admitted to the hospital for 12 days right at the beginning of the pandemic.

After I was discharged, I was referred to doctor Geoffrey Pulley, cardiologist and surgeon at Trillium Hospital in Mississauga, in September 2020 for a Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) closure. He then decided after the surgery to refer me to the Toronto General hospital CTEPH clinic under the direction of Dr. Laura Donahoe. After numerous tests, approximately 10, I was admitted to the hospital on July 21, 2021, for surgery which involved cutting open my chest cavity from the top of my lungs down the middle to the bottom of the rib cage. I had deep vein thrombosis, four blood clots in my right leg up the right side through both my lungs piercing a tiny hole on the side of the heart and parked themselves on the left side of my brain.

This is my story. My condition is considered rare, but heart disease runs in the family. I hope you find this useful.

Contributed by: Stephen Winter, Patient, Oakville, ON
Photo of Patient Stephen Winter

Stephen Winter, Patient, Oakville, ON

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