Scott Ouellette is a man with a new heart thanks to a transplant last August, but his nickname — Tinman — has stuck.
Ouellette, 29, of Red Deer had a heart attack exactly one year ago today that was so severe it killed the left side of his heart.
Two days later, an external pump was linked to his heart to pump his blood to keep him alive.
He was on top of Alberta’s heart transplant list for about four months until a suitable heart was found. He went back on the operating table for a heart transplant on Aug. 15.
Ouellette said before his massive heart attack, his family had discussed organ donation and agreed they would do it to help save lives.
“We never thought we would need it. You never think of that,” said the sales rep with Acklands Grainger on Tuesday.
“Being 28 years old and as athletic as I was, I never expected it either.”
On the day he had his heart attack, he had been playing ball hockey.
That’s why he was eager to talk about the importance of organ donation during National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week, April 19 to 25.
“Most people don’t even know where to find their organ donation card. Everybody has one. It’s on the back of the Alberta Health Care Card.”
People also need to discuss their decision to donate their organs with their family because families can override their wish to donate even if a donor card is signed, he said.
Recently, Ouellette sent a letter to the family who gave him the best gift ever. One day when they’re ready, he’d love to meet them.
“Their loved one saved my life. It’s like someone pulling you from a burning building.” And more people need that chance, Ouellette said.
“It’s not like everyone who gets into an accident can be a donor. You have to be brain dead and there’s absolutely nothing the doctors can do for you.
“If they are not in the hospital when they pass away on machines, then there’s no chance of saving their organs. Really, it’s got to be the perfect storm.”
Ouellette continues to get stronger every day. In January, he started playing hockey again and he’s back playing in the Red Deer Men’s Ball Hockey League.
Come August, Ouellette and his fiancee Amy Evasiuk will walk down the aisle on the anniversary of his transplant.
“We couldn’t think of a more appropriate day.”
For more information about organ donation, go to http://organdonations.ca