Patient Heroes: Lisa Iliadis
On a spring evening in 2010, Lisa Iliadis was reading a bedtime story to her young son when she experienced a flash of light in her vision. “I tried to refocus but saw strange zigzags,” says Lisa. “Then I felt a heaviness in my chest and heat moving up to my throat. ‘Something’s not right’, I said to my husband, Ken. Then we called 911.
Lisa was seen at Credit Valley Hospital, where, just six days earlier, she had given birth to a healthy baby girl. A CT scan confirmed an aortic dissection, a life-threatening condition with grim prognosis – the same condition that had killed Lisa’s father at the age of 45.
Rushed to Trillium, Lisa underwent highly complex, open heart surgery with Dr. Shafqat Ahmed and his team. She had suffered two strokes before her operation that left her with minor visual loss. During the emergency surgery, in order to work on the dissected vessels in a bloodless environment, Lisa was placed on a heart-lung bypass machine. To preserve brain function, she was cooled to 15 degrees for a total of 87 minutes. Compared to an average cardiac surgery, where patients are cooled to 22 degrees for just 12 minutes, Lisa’s surgery was unprecedented. Certainly in Ontario, the procedure Dr. Ahmed performed that night was a first – and quite likely a first in Canada.
Lisa’s rehabilitation story is equally remarkable. After the surgery, Dr. Ahmed warned Ken that Lisa might not wake from her coma for weeks. She awoke the morning after and a year of rehab began. From intensive care to “step-down” to inpatient, then outpatient rehabilitation, Lisa made the long journey back to health. Today she is completely recovered from her ordeal.
“My experience has convinced me that the expertise and specialized care that I received at Trillium rivals that of any hospital in Toronto,” says Lisa. “Trillium saved my life. There is no way to adequately verbalize the enormity of this, except to say that my children will have their mommy for many years to come.”