When Brian Temins crossed the finish line at the 2022 New York City Marathon, the 50-year-old lawyer called it his biggest accomplishment as a runner—more meaningful than completing any of his nine previous marathons, even Boston.
That’s because two years earlier, shortly after running the qualifying Virtual New York City Marathon, Brian landed at St. Michael’s Hospital with a chronic cough. A CT scan revealed an aortic aneurysm, a balloon-like bulge in the main artery in his chest. Had it ruptured, it would have caused massive internal bleeding and likely death.
St. Michael’s Schroeder BRAIN&HEART team, led by cardiac surgeon and aortic disease specialist Dr. Mark Peterson, raced to replace his aorta with a polyester-woven tube graft, through a small incision in his chest. This less conventional, minimally invasive approach allowed Brian to go home from the hospital earlier and return to physical activities a lot sooner.
As it turns out, while one to two percent of people develop an aortic aneurysm, they may not show symptoms. Brian was not only oblivious to his heart problem, but also unaware that his grandfather died from the condition before Brian was born.
“I’m incredibly fortunate that the aneurysm was found and repaired so incredibly well,” Brian says. “I’m forever grateful for the treatment that Dr. Peterson and his team provided, and the quality care that the nurses and physiotherapists gave. There was such a display of compassion from staff members across the ward.”
And so, 22 months and two days after surgery, Brian ran the New York City Marathon—once more flanked by throngs of spectators, surrounded by their boisterous cheers and banging of cowbells.
“That brought everything full circle,” says Brian. “I didn’t run my all-time best, but I celebrated my recovery.”
He now marks the anniversary of his surgery by donating to St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation.
“I have so much respect for the work that St. Michael’s does—I proudly wear my surgical scar to show that,” he says. “And I feel so fortunate to be able to give back.”
Want to learn more about the innovative care at The Schroeder BRAIN&HEART Centre? Contact Katie McMillan at 416 864 5000 or McMillanKa@smh.ca.
Donate to #HUMANCARE, our campaign to reinvent the patient experience.