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Breathing Easier

August 9, 2023

New equipment restores quality of life

Yolande Trudel

Yolande Trudel noticed she was getting short of breath when she was walking with a friend, and later found out it was because her trachea was shrinking…again.

Yolande Trudel spends her summer days taking care of her large yard and beautiful flowers on her trailer lot near St. Malo. Pretty impressive for a 75-year-old who could barely catch her breath just a month ago.

“My friend and I were walking the hallways of our apartment building for exercise and I was getting short of breath,” says Trudel. “Around the same time, I was getting a scheduled scan and it showed that my trachea was shrinking.”

Her windpipe was shrinking because a tumour was growing. Growing back, actually.

About seven years ago, after similar symptoms, Trudel had major surgery to remove a tumour. The very invasive surgery kept her in hospital for six days with an epidural to help relieve her pain. After discharge, she faced 27 rounds of radiation and a long, uncomfortable recovery. And then a second surgery was required shortly after to remove a tumour from her lungs after her cancer spread.

Thanks to Operation Excellence donors and the skilled hands of thoracic surgeon Dr. Biniam Kidane in the Wilf Taillieu Thoracic Surgery Clinic and Endoscopy Unit, her experience this time around was much different. Instead of six days in the hospital, she spent 11 hours. And instead of a complicated recovery, she had a sore throat for a few days while resuming her normal activities. No radiation was required. She even travelled to Moose Jaw to visit family a week after surgery.

Yolande Trudel

Yolande Trudel has returned to her garden and flowers, thanks to Dr. Biniam Kidane and the generous donors to Operation Excellence.

“I used an argon plasma generator that we recently acquired through donations to the Operation Excellence campaign,” says Dr. Kidane. “It is a very sophisticated piece of equipment that produces ionized gas that passes through an electrical charge and creates plasma. That plasma is then directed at surgical sites to solve a variety of problems. In Yolande’s case, we were able to break up her tumour into chunks and then safely remove them with no bleeding. The procedure opened up her windpipe.”

The argon plasma generator is part of a new generation of minimally invasive equipment designed to improve patient outcomes, shorten hospital stays, and help patients get back to their regular lives as soon as possible. Without the argon plasma generator, explains Dr. Kidane, Trudel would have needed an airway stent inserted as conventional endoscopic therapy to try to open up the airway—in addition to being a riskier procedure—would have come with a high risk of future, potentially fatal stent blockages.

“Her quality of life with a stent would have been compromised,” says Dr. Kidane. “And I would have advised her against ever travelling again. She wouldn’t have been able to travel confidently to see her family.”

Yolande Trudel is tending to her flowers today, thanks to Dr. Kidane and HSC Foundation donors.

“I’m grateful for the donors, for Dr. Kidane, and for everyone at HSC who looked after me,” says Trudel. “And I’m glad other people will benefit from this equipment, too. I get a second chance at life—again.”


Your support of the HSC Foundation’s Operation Excellence campaign will help Manitoba’s hospital acquire more state-of-the-art, minimally invasive surgical equipment. With your support, HSC can reduce diagnostic and surgical waitlists, shorten in-hospital recovery times, and improve overall patient outcomes. Please donate today.