Hello Brian, I have just read your article
on your website and will continue to read through the other links that
are available. I feel that your website will be very resourceful.
My father's name is Francesco (Frank) Rende and he is 77 years of age, the father of 5 children, 9
grandchildren and a very devoted husband to my mother for over 51 years.
Here is his story...
He collapsed at home in the early morning
on April 15, 2004. My sister called 911 and he was sent to nearby
York Finch General Hospital, which is located in a suburb of Toronto.
He was complaining of a very severe upper chest pain and headache as
well as feeling very cold and sweaty at the same time. They
conducted some tests (CT scan of the head, chest x-ray, EKG) and they
determined that he was not having a heart attack or a stroke.
After being in the emergency from
8:00 am until 2:30 pm, he was sent home and was given a painkiller for
his head ache. He was still complaining that his shoulder was
hurting and his head. I asked the doctors that if it was a good
idea to send him home, why not keep him in for observation over night?
Well, he still decided to send him home so home we went.
I decided to stay for dinner and that was
just as well because at approximately 6:00 pm of that same day he
collapsed again. We called 911 AGAIN, and he was sent back to the
hospital. Still not diagnosed, the doctor this time had an idea as
to what was happening to my father but could not be sure until we did a
CT scan of his chest. So they pursued the scan, after a few
minutes they came back saying that they were unable to proceed with the
scan because his blood pressure was not normal.
They needed to give him some medication to
bring it back to normal so we waited and waited for the medication to
work. The CT scan was going to be a risk; a risk that we needed to
be aware of therefore, they needed our signed consent. We were
told that there could be kidney failure once the test was done because
of his blood pressure but we literally had no choice. We needed to
have the test done to have the diagnosis otherwise no major hospital
would accept him without a diagnosis, so we consented. Well after
the CT scan he was in so much pain that he was screaming and in all of
my 35 years of life have never heard my father scream from so much pain.
The results were definite in that he was
experiencing a dissection of the ascending aorta valve and that the
hospital he was in could not do anything for him. We were basically
told that this was inoperable at this time and we want to make him
comfortable for the time he has left.
I guess the attending physician
at that time did not have much hope for one of the more specialized
hospitals of accepting him as a patient but that changed and
Toronto General gave the okay to have him transported there. Nearly
18 hours since he first collapsed at home for the first time and in the
interim sent home mid day from his first trip to the hospital because
the first doctor was not competent enough to know that this was
happening to my father we were following an ambulance to Toronto General
Hospital. It was not until the 2nd emergency doctor that had enough
sense to have an idea what was going on with my Father and pursue
diagnosis and treatment.
It was now 3:00 am on April 16th,
and we were waiting to speak to the cardiovascular surgeon that was
called in for my Father,
Dr. Borger. Truly, this doctor seemed to be the doctor that was
going to help him. He spoke to us with such knowledge of what was
happening to my Father that we all had a sense of relief, relief in a
way that he was going to be given a chance, that to this point we did
not have given the maltreatment my Father was given initially at York
Dr. Borger was very clear
in saying that it was a 50/50 chance that our Father would survive the
operation, a total replacement of the ascending aorta valve and
if he did survive, there would further complications such as a stroke.
He confirmed that he was going into the operation with kidney failure,
which probably was a result of the CT scan that was done at the other
hospital. A test that should have been done earlier in the day when he
made his first trip to the emergency room. We feel that as the day
progressed his blood pressure got worse which made it more difficult to
do the CT scan, which was not done until the early hours of April 16th
because of the misdiagnosis.
5 ˝ hours later Dr.
Borger came to see us with optimism about the recovery of our Father
however, it has now been one month on May 16th, since the
operation. He was in ICU for one month, has dialysis 3 times a
week, has had a Tracheotomy to help secrete excess fluids, had had a
feeding tube in his mouth for 3 weeks (now has a feeding tube in his
stomach) and at times seems to be unresponsive when you speak to him.
They secrete the fluids through the access
hole that the Tracheotomy has given them. We have been told that
there has been some neurological damage because of a moderate stroke he
has suffered, but to what extent, at this time they are not able to say.
Hopefully we can know more when he starts to speak. This week they
are corking the Tracheotomy a few times a day to test his speaking
ability. He can move his limbs and himself and this is evident
when he is lying in the bed.
They have started taking him out of the bed
to get him moving and get his circulation going. We are at a point
where as we thought recovery would have been a little more progressed at
this time and cannot understand at times, his unresponsiveness. He
does hold my hand and holds it very tightly and when I try to kiss him
he does make a very weak “pucker”. Sometimes I see tears roll down
his face and I am left with visions of my father in my dreams and in my
Should someone be
accountable for not properly diagnosing him earlier that day? We as a
family are focusing on his recovery of course but are left with a lot of
unanswered questions. Thank you for listening to my story.
Hello Kim, I've been
meaning to post an update to my Dad's (age 78) story and will do so
very soon. I've been very busy at work and at home having young
children so the days are very short.
Thank you for you concern
and I loved reading your good news. I envisioned you father in the
garden because my father too is a die hard vegetable gardener, I guess
that is his nature being an Italian man (he came to Canada in the mid
50's...he's what you call, "off the boat"). Well his anger has seem
to be gone, his depression comes and goes, mostly goes when he sees
his grandchildren. He is still in the hospital (since April 16th) and
the only thing that is stopping him from going home is his inability
to gain the strength/energy to stand up on his own and walk. I feel
he has become very complacent and has grown accustomed to everyone
doing things for him, but yet he complains that he wants to come home,
so we tell...THE ONLY THING STOPPING YOU IS WALKING ON YOUR OWN. He's
much happier now that he is able to eat regular foods, but he will not
dare eat the hospital food, my poor Mom (age 76) has been going to the
hospital since the first day, and she will bring him what he has been
longing for for such a long time...a nice plate of pasta. You see
that is very important to an Italian man set in his ways so we
encourage him to eat to get his strength back. But of course the
hospital is now wanting to "get rid of him" and "ship" him off to a
long term care facility because really he is not on any medication or
is not being fed by lines, just the dialysis he gets 3x a week. The
hospital's compassion seems to have worn off because his recover has
been very long and enduring.
On another note, we are
seeking legal services against the 1st emergency doctor who DID NOT
diagnose the dissection, but rather sent him home with a pain killer.
Even though my Dad was still complaining of a head ache and upper
chest pain (close to his neck) they still sent him home. It wasn't
until many, many hours later that he collapsed AGAIN at home and the
2nd emergency doctor finally diagnosed the dissection but with
damaging consequences because of the delay in his treatment. We know
that his legal matter may take years but someone needs to be
accountable for what happened and we have been told that someone
certainly "dropped the ball" on your father's initial
visit to emergency. We are thinking of his future, especially if he
does need to stay in a long term care facility that his pensioner
insurance will not cover.
Once again, thank you for
keeping in touch and I was meaning to reply and I apologize for the
delay. Please do continue to keep in touch.
Brian, you may add my
update to the website and I know you hear this a lot...BUT THANKS FOR
Another update to Frank Rende's story posted on May 18, 2004...
I first told my father's story this past spring and at that time it
did not seem that he was going to survive or ever come out of the
hospital. Well, almost 7 months later we finally brought him
home...for good!! He only started walking about 2 months ago, 1 month
ago on his own with the assistance of a walker. He still needs to have
dialysis treatment 3x a week for 4 hours at a time, probably for the
rest of his life; it is because of the Grace of God that my father has
survived everything he has endured. With my mother by his side
literally every day for hours at a time, with her own ailing health,
my father is still here to love and support her, his children and
Many thanks to Brian for this great website, for giving me the
resources and that I needed to answer my questions and give me hope. I
knew after reading some of the stories that it was going to be a very
slow recovery. Sincere appreciation to the wonderful doctors and
nurses at Toronto General Hospital, to my mother who cared and loved
for him everyday in the hospital and to my sisters and brothers who
have stuck together through everything we have been through as a
family. My prayers have been answered.
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