Ian’s Story

Nineteen years ago, Dr. Claus Rinne, Irene Janzen, and the staff at St. Mary’s made a promise to Ian, Connie, and Sarah Ferguson.  The promise was simple in words, but large in scope.

Connie recalls January 5th, 1991 as if it were yesterday. She lay awake beside her husband Ian, as he experienced strong fluttering sensations in his chest.  Having a long history of heart disease in Ian’s family, they both knew he needed immediate medical attention. After a short visit with their family Doctor, he was referred to the care of Dr. Claus Rinne, one of St. Mary’s renowned cardiologists.

At the age of 48, Ian was given only two years to live.  He took on the challenge of beating that prognosis.

Dilated cardiomyopathy or DCM, was a term the Ferguson’s had heard before.  Ian’s Grandfather had passed away from the same condition many years ago.  At the age of 48, Ian was given only two years to live.  He took on the challenge of beating that prognosis.

Ian truly loved to learn, and quickly advanced his knowledge in the medical field, so much so, that his friends and family soon called him “Dr. Ferguson”.  He became an advocate for medical research in the field of cardiology and at any given time was partaking in at least 2-3 medical studies.  When a trip to St. Mary’s was required, Ian made sure that his medical dictionaries, books, and journals took priority over such things as pajamas. “Ian believed in supporting new medical innovation, and participated in many studies with the underlining purpose to provide a learning opportunity that would benefit others with this disease in the future” recalls Connie.

Just as St. Mary’s made a promise to do their best to make sure Ian could enjoy life’s special moments, Ian promised to make each and every day purposeful.  “Every day was a gift, and Ian knew it,” recalls Irene Janzen who was Ian’s first nurse, and remained his nurse for eighteen years. He achieved this by focusing on his family and his health.  Under the watchful care of his team at St. Mary’s, Ian saw his daughter Sarah through grade school, high school, university, and post graduate studies. She was truly the gem of Ian’s life.

“We saw awesome changes in the technology used at St. Mary’s during those years that we waited for a new heart.  The innovation and technology that St. Mary’s had adopted during Ian’s battle had truly paid off.”

During the summer of 2008, while receiving extensive treatments at St. Mary’s, Ian was given the extraordinary news that he would be receiving a heart transplant. “We always had hope, and knew that in the end, a new heart might fix all of Ian’s problems,” said Connie.

“We saw awesome changes in the technology used at St. Mary’s during those years that we waited for a new heart.  The innovation and technology that St. Mary’s had adopted during Ian’s battle had truly paid off.”

He was soon transported to Toronto General Hospital where he received a new heart in September of 2008.  Connie recalls phoning Sarah in England with the good news that her father would be receiving a new heart. Immediately Sarah got on a plane to be by her fathers side.

While the transplant went well, and the Ferguson’s shared a week of extraordinary recovery, unexpected complications arose and Ian passed away on September 28th, 2008.

This is a story of promises kept.  While St. Mary’s played a role and kept its promise to care for Ian’s heart, he did all the real work, and kept the most important promises; to advance the study of DCM and to live life to the fullest with his family and friends.

If you would like to help us keep our promises to the community, you can learn about ways you can give to St. Mary’s here. 

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