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The Difference between Life and Death

Kelly Rome didn’t realize she was having a heart attack. If it wasn’t for the Cardiac Stenting Program, made possible by donors in our community, things could have turned out very differently for her.

Kelly Rome did not realize she was having a heart attack before receiving treatment at Sault Area Hospital last spring.

In Spring 2021, Kelly Rome had a heart attack. She had no idea it was happening.

Her smart watch, which monitors her heart rate, told her to “rest.” While she hadn’t been exerting herself, she wasn’t feeling well – so she followed the device’s instructions and laid down on her bed to call her sister.

It was at that moment that Kelly felt a sudden, sharp pain in her chest. She couldn’t breathe.

“I could barely get the words out. I whispered to my sister that I’d call her later, and I hung up.”

Spring 2021 was in the middle of the third wave of COVID-19. Hospitals across the province were overwhelmed by hospital cases – the last place that Kelly wanted to be was Sault Area Hospital. She waited another day before going to the Emergency Department.

“As soon as I went in, from the first nurse in Emergency, I had immediate care. It all happened within a few hours.”

Kelly was having a major heart attack. She was rushed to the Cardiac Catheterization Lab, where Dr. Bakar and his team were waiting for her. They worked quickly to place a stent and, with it, saved Kelly’s life.

Kelly spent 4 days in the hospital following her emergency stent, and her experience was nothing short of outstanding.

“There’s no question: the people who work at this hospital are special. Everyone was calm, confident and skilled. You don’t doubt for a minute that they know what they’re doing and will take great care of you.”

Local contributions towards Sault Area Hospital Foundation funded the PCI (Percutaneous Coronary Intervention) equipment needed to perform the treatment that saved Kelly’s life.

Thanks to the generosity of our local community, Sault Area Hospital has been able to provide cardiac stenting services since 2018. If Kelly’s heart attack had happened a few years earlier, she would have had to travel to Sudbury or Toronto for her stent – wasting precious time. For Kelly, receiving care at home was the difference between life and death.

As a donor, Kelly has always understood the impact of donating to Sault Area Hospital Foundation. Now she appreciates it on a different level.

“We have personally donated for years, and I’m so happy it’s helped so many people. It certainly saved my life.”

Kelly is grateful to everyone who supports SAHF. “Our hospital wouldn’t be what it is today if people didn’t give out of the kindness of their hearts. Thank you!”


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If it doesn't feel right, go to hospital

Kelly's heart attack was a surprise to everyone. She strives to have an active life, spending her time enjoying Zumba, cross-country skiing, walking, biking, snowshoeing and yoga. Her heart attack was in her genes.

Heart attacks can present differently in women than they do in men. For Kelly, it was intense back pain and shortness of breath. After experiencing her heart attack, Kelly urges everyone to listen to their body.

“I didn’t listen well to my body, and I should have. That’s what I’m telling everyone, now: if it doesn’t feel right, DON’T WAIT until the next day. Get to SAH!”

More information on Heart attack symptoms in women

Heart and Stroke Canada has the following advice about heart attack symptoms in women:

“The most common heart attack sign is chest pain or discomfort; however, women can experience a heart attack without chest pressure. They may experience shortness of breath, pressure or pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen, dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting, upper back pressure or extreme fatigue.” Click here to learn more about heart attack symptoms in women.


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