Carolyn Thomas says she was in denial despite the textbook symptoms: central chest paint, nausea, pain down on her left arm.

“I didn’t want to believe this, I didn’t want to have a heart attack,” Thomas said.

Doctors at the Royal Jubilee Hospital told Thomas had suffered three heart attacks. One of the cardiologists saw a 95 per cent blockage and made the decision to implant a stent immediatly.

Thomas is among the 200,000 people who receive cardiac care in Vancouver Island hospitals every year.

The Victoria Hospitals Foundation says to perform the latest cardiac procedures, Heart Health teams need the best equipment.

That’s why the foundation launched the ‘In a Heartbeat’ campaign Friday. The goal is to raise $3.2 million to fund 34 pieces of cutting-edge equipment.

Among the list of equipment is the C-Arm which costs $1.7 million. The machine gives doctors real-time images of the status of blood flow to the heart, as well as the location, size and shape of any narrowing or blockages in the artery.

“With these pieces of equipment, which are cutting edge were able to improve outcomes and improve diagnosis and ultimately get patients back to their loved ones sooner and healthier,” says Dr. Manjeet Mann, Island Health’s executive medical director of Health.

Carolyn Thomas who has since written a book called “Living with Heart Disease” says the equipment and doctors at Royal Jubilee saved her life.  The funds raised in the campaign will help even more people.

“It’s a great comfort to know that when we really really need it in a life and death situation, like many cardiac cases are, when we really need it. it’s right here on Vancouver Island for us,” Thomas said.

For details on the campaign and how to donate, click here.

Isabelle Raghem