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Sundre community helps family with cardiac troubles

A Sundre family struggling with genetic heart problems has found much to be grateful for as the community rallies to its aid.

“The love and support and donations have been amazing,” said Tracy Pusey, who has received tons of help after her husband, Chris Pusey, became disabled by a genetic condition that caused one side of his heart to expand and lose strength.

The same condition previously afflicted their young son, Carter, who had to have a heart transplant at the age of four months in 2010.

The three-year-old is now, thankfully, doing well. But Tracy said one worry had been displaced by another, with Chris’s heart worsening since May.

The 48-year-old was only able to work intermittently at his job as an electrician throughout the summer and fall, and finally had to stop work in November.

At one point, Chris dropped 35 pounds in three weeks, as his heart began to fail, said Tracy, who was alarmed to see her husband showing similar symptoms as when Carter was in heart failure. Both were breathless and retaining fluid.

“Sometimes I feel like I’m living Groundhog Day,” said Tracy, referring to the movie in which characters experience the same things again and again. “It’s all been emotionally overwhelming at times.”

The genetic condition — dialated cardiomyopathy — caused Chris’ mother to die prematurely in her 50s.

While the Pusey’s daughter five-year-old, Olivia, also carries the defective gene, so far, her heart is fine.

Tracy said Chris might only have about 10 more years to live if doctors performed a heart transplant, since the results for adults have briefer benefits than for children. “He’s so young that they want to hold off as long as they can.”

Physicians are first trying a drug therapy, requiring Chris to regularly have his progress monitored at a Calgary hospital.

If the meds fail, the next step would be implanting a “ventricular assistance device” to take some of the pumping pressure off his heart.

Tracy doesn’t know how her family — including two older children from a previous marriage — would have gotten through the holidays without community support.

Friends and relatives came through with Christmas presents and groceries. They also started an on-line auction in which the public can bid on donated items, with the proceeds going to the Pusey family. (The website is

The Sundre community assisted Tracy, a bus driver for the Chinook’s Edge School District, in financing a small vacuum truck so she can supplement the family income by flushing out and delivering fresh port-a-potties to work sites.

As well, relatives helped her and her four kids get part-time janitorial and sand-bag filling work for a pipeline company.

Tracy sometimes hears the comment, “You guys must feel so cursed,” but she believes everything hangs on having a positive outlook.

“Not only is medical science made such great advances, compared to what our parents could have expected . . . but look at all the love and support we’re getting. It’s really taken the financial pressure off.”



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