“This is not normal.” A sharp shooting pain struck through Tracy White’s head as she reached over to feed her newborn baby. Heart palpitations had haunted the 36 year-old throughout most of her pregnancy. But tonight was different. 

“I was in agony,” recalls Tracy, who was rushed to the Emergency Department at Markham Stouffville Hospital (MSH) – the same hospital where she had just given birth to a healthy baby 5 days earlier. Her blood pressure was dangerously high. 

Fearing Tracy could be suffering from a life-threatening blood clot or brain aneurysm, the MSH team wasted no time ordering a head CT. Tracy’s agonizing headache continued despite pain medication that was administered.  When her brain scans came back normal, cardiology was called in. A chest x-ray revealed Tracy’s heart was enlarged. With her elevated blood pressure, Tracy could have had a stroke at any moment. 

“I was in sheer panic,” explains Tracy, choking back tears. “I remember sitting on the hospital bed crying in my husband’s arms and apologizing that I was going to die and leave him alone to raise our new baby girl and 8-year-old daughter.” 

Luckily, Tracy had access to life-saving equipment that was critical to her care – equipment like a state-of-the-art CT scanner, heart monitor and an advanced x-ray machine. Tracy also benefitted from a more efficient Emergency Department that is TRIPLE its previous size since its expansion.

“I had so many incredible doctors and nurses taking such good care of me,” says Tracy, who was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension and transferred to the Cardiac Care Unit where a dedicated cardiac nurse monitored her condition day and night. “It was such a scary time but everyone at MSH was so kind and reassuring.”

Tracy was particularly impressed with the dedication and care of respirologist Dr. Althea Burrell. Two months after going home, Tracy was still experiencing frequent heart palpitations. Dr. Burrell insisted on further testing. 

It’s a good thing too. Tracy had a hole in her heart that needed specialized surgery. “I wouldn't be here today if it wasn’t for the amazing care at Markham Stouffville Hospital,” says Tracy. “Now, my girls get to have a mom growing up. I’ve never been more grateful.”


Our supporters help make our hospital the special place it is, ready to offer comprehensive and compassionate care to all patients in need. You can help MSH purchase life-saving equipment and save more lives, by visiting mshf.on.ca/renew and giving today!