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A Well-Oiled Machine – HSC Saved Debbie’s Father

November 6, 2019

Victor Stutsky, Debbie Stutsky's Father.

This is a story about well-oiled machines: the ones my Dad likes to fix, and the one where I work.

I want to tell you about my Dad, Victor Stutsky-an automobile and aircraft mechanic by trade, and a pilot and outdoorsman by-pleasure. At the time of this story, Dad, at 88-years-old, was still rebuilding aircraft, fishing, hunting, repairing engines of all types, and spending time at the cottage.

It was the Thanksgiving long weekend, 2017. Before dawn, my Mom called to tell me that Dad had collapsed on the way to the bathroom. He couldn’t walk, talk, nor move his left side. As a nurse for 40 years, I strongly suspected that my Dad was having a stroke. I’ve worked most of my career in critical care areas: intensive care, emergency, and in operating rooms. I’m currently a clinic nurse with the Section of Neurosurgery at Health Sciences Centre. On this particular weekend, though, I wasn’t working. I was watching. I was the daughter of a patient. Dad was taken by ambulance from his home in St. Andrews to the nearest hospital. A CT scan suggested there was a clot in his brain. In treating a stroke, time is of the essence and there are only two centres in Manitoba (HSC and Thompson ­General Hospital) that can administer the “clot buster” medication (TPA).

Dad was quickly transferred to HSC where the blood clot was confirmed and he received the timely medication. Even before the TPA was fully administered, the on-call interventional radiology team rallied together to treat my Dad in HSC’s Centre for Surgical Innovation (CSI) where they would attempt to remove the clot from his brain.

Heading into the CSI, Dad-although a shadow of himself-was already showing small signs of recovery, thanks to the TPA. He tried to speak and could move his left arm and leg slightly. A catheter was inserted into his groin and a long wire was advanced into the area of his brain where the blood clot was retrieved. Within one hour, Dad was transferred to an observation area where he started to speak more clearly and move better.

It was amazing! My Dad was showing significant signs of recovery. He was discharged from HSC three days later, with no residual effects of the stroke. In his words: “I’m feeling better now than the couple of months before my stroke.”

Given where I work, I deal with patients like my Dad frequently. I am a part of the team that delivers the kind of care my Dad received that day. However, it’s not until you are on the outside looking in that you realize what an incredible team we have at HSC! I watched the physicians, technicians, therapists, and my fellow nurses treat my Dad with skill, precision, and compassion. The care was timely, the people were focused and the systems were organized. Like a well-oiled machine. (My Dad likes it when an engine runs as smoothly as possible!)

Since that weekend, although a little slower, my Dad has returned to the things he loves to do. He is still rebuilding his airplanes and engines, fishing, and spending time at the cottage. And he has celebrated the birth of his great-grandchild. Pretty remarkable for a man who could not speak nor move less than a year before that!

Ever since that Thanksgiving, I count my blessings that Dad was able to receive the care he did. Without that care, the outcome could have been very different. I am grateful for the professionals who saved his life and restored his sense of well­being. I am grateful that I am witness to many stories like this every year at HSC. And I am grateful that donors like you are willing to step forward to help HSC save lives, change lives, and bring comfort to families throughout Manitoba.

The Centre for Surgical Innovation, where my Dad’s life was restored, was funded in large part by donors to the Health Sciences Centre Foundation. Your gifts throughout the years have funded the purchase of many remarkable pieces of medical equipment, many important upgrades to the facilities, and many important research initiatives.

My Dad and I are very grateful for your support of the HSC Foundation. We invite you to contribute again so that HSC can always reach for new levels of excellence as new equipment becomes available and as the health care needs of Manitobans change. Your gifts have always made a difference, and they always will.

Thank you for your consideration!


Debbie Stutsky

Victor working on his passion: fixing planes