Together, our community cared for John Thomson and his family

“We couldn’t have asked for better care.”

Pam and John in Hawaii
John and Pam Thomson in John’s favourite place, Hawaii

On a Saturday night back in April, Pam and John Thomson were getting ready to go to bed. Pam was turning down the covers while John opened the back door to call in Finnegan, their rescue dog. Then Pam heard a dull thud. When she rushed into the kitchen, she saw her 82-year-old husband lying unresponsive on the floor.

Pam grabbed the phone and called 911. Before she knew it, the volunteer fire department and two OPP officers had arrived, and an ambulance was on the way. As paramedics took John to Guelph General, Pam and her oldest son, Mark, raced to meet him there.

The Emergency Department team was waiting for them. While John underwent tests, the triage nurse took Pam and Mark into a quiet room to wait. Although the situation was serious, they were confident that John was in good hands. “We knew everything possible was being done,” she says.

And thanks to generous community support, the Emergency team had the tools they needed to diagnose John quickly.

A CT scan revealed that he had suffered a ruptured aortic aneurysm — a tear in the main blood vessel that moves blood from the heart to the rest of the body. The Emergency Department doctor didn’t sugar coat the situation, and Pam appreciated his candour.

Without surgery, John would die. A cardiac specialist at St. Mary’s General Hospital was willing to operate, but it was a complex, high-risk procedure.

Sadly, after 10 hours on the operating table, John passed away. But Pam has nothing but praise for the team at Guelph General and the cardiac surgeon. “Everyone was so compassionate,” she says. “We couldn’t have asked for better care for him.”

Pam and Mark decided it was worth a shot. Pam’s younger son, Scott, agreed when he joined them at St. Mary’s. “We’d never have forgiven ourselves if we hadn’t said ‘go ahead and try,’” she explains.

She wants the entire Emergency Department team to know just how much her family appreciates all they did for John, and for the care they showed her and Mark as well. That’s why the family requested memorial donations to The Foundation of Guelph General and to St. Mary’s in lieu of flowers. And it’s why Pam wrote a special thank you note expressing their gratitude — something she says healthcare workers deserve to hear more often. “I can’t say enough about Guelph General,” she says.