Ben Fanelli from Waterloo nearly died in 2009. While playing for the Kitchener Rangers, an Ontario Hockey League (OHL) team, the 16-year-old was checked hard during a game and his head smashed into the boards. He was airlifted to Hamilton General Hospital.
Ben’s skull was fractured and his brain was bleeding in three places. He suffered a serious concussion and was lucky to be alive. After being put into an induced coma, he was monitored closely and treated with various medications to control the bleeding.
When he woke up a week later, he experienced memory loss, increased sensitivity to light, drowsiness and blurred vision. Luckily, an MRI showed that the brain bleeds had healed sufficiently and no surgery was required.
After two years of recovery, Ben rejoined his teammates on the ice as a Ranger for two more seasons. He is now an associate coach for a university men’s hockey team.
Constable Phil Sheldon of Beamsville was attempting to rescue a woman from a burning home in July 2015 when the house exploded, resulting in third- and fourth-degree burns to 50 per cent of his body.
He was admitted to the Burn Trauma Unit (BTU) at Hamilton General Hospital, where he underwent a number of skin grafts, with skin from his back and stomach grafted onto his hands, arms and legs. Phil worked closely with therapists to regain movement throughout his body.
After his discharge from The General, Phil continued to recover both physically and emotionally. He enjoys speaking about his experience and spreading awareness about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by speaking at various events.
Dr. Wes Oczkowski
Dr. Wes Oczkowski visited the Emergency Department at The General after he experienced chest pain in February 2019. The staff was surprised to see him there as a patient, given that he is the Division Head of Neurology at Hamilton Health Sciences.
The pain was due to a lack of blood flow to the heart muscles, which was caused by blockages in his main blood vessels. Dr. Oczkowski was at risk of suffering a massive heart attack and required urgent bypass surgery.
A complex open-heart procedure was performed to bypass the blockages and allow for regular blood flow. Veins were taken from his leg and an artery from his chest, which were grafted into his heart to complete the six required bypasses.
After the surgery, Dr. Oczkowski spent two days in the Intensive Care Unit, followed by three days recovering in the Cardiac Surgical Unit. He was back to work two months after the surgery. Feeling better than ever, Dr. Oczkowski is grateful to have been given a second chance at life.