|Lyle Aspinall / Calgary Sun|
The 33-year-old former Calgarian suffered a massive heart attack at the age of 28 due to two blocked arteries.
His doctor spoke with his family about the possibility of Ouellette using a ventricular assist device (VAD), a mechanical circulatory unit implanted on the heart to help pump blood and his family took the chance.
“It was my heart for 113 days,” said Ouellette, a branch manager at Acklands-Grainger in Drumheller.
“Without it, I would have been dead — I wouldn’t have had a functioning heart.”
With an external controller the size of a briefcase, the VAD wasn’t exactly easy to carry around, but it allowed Ouellette to get out of the hospital until he could receive a heart transplant.
Since then, VAD technology has developed significantly, so much so that the controllers are now the size of hockey pucks.
That evolution is the focus of a new exhibit called The Tin Man, which opened Tuesday at the Telus Sparks science centre.