My name is Balwant Sanghera.

I have been a Richmond resident since 1990 and I love this diverse community and am proud to call this place home. I am a retired school psychologist and my true passion is helping people any way I can. Through my work, I have been fortunate enough to be honoured with the Order of British Columbia in 2004 – an award that I am incredibly proud of. I now spend much of my time promoting causes that are near and dear to my heart to help build our community.

I’d like to tell you about the time I had a heart attack.

I vividly remember how it happened. On September 21 I was on my back porch looking at my grandchildren’s treehouse and enjoying life. Just four days earlier, I was being presented with Richmond Hospital Foundation’s Community Cares Award, another honour that brought me great joy and appreciation. While we were on the porch, I was speaking to my wife and daughter-in-law when I felt a tightness in my chest.

At first it was manageable tightness, something I needed to sit down for, but nothing serious. Then it got tighter, and I felt pains in my arm and back. I broke out in a cold sweat, nausea started to build, the world began to spin, and suddenly it was serious.

The ride to Richmond Hospital had me worried, panicked, and fearful. Staring at the ambulance ceiling while hearing the sirens wail, forced me to confront the seriousness of the situation. As I laid there in the ambulance on the way to the Emergency Department, I was still conscious but now, I have trouble remembering some of the details as everything was happening so quickly.

I was in an ambulance, and we were racing to save my life.

My family rushed to the hospital, arriving mere moments behind my ambulance. The second I saw my wife I knew our emotions were aligned. Tears welled up in my eyes as I saw the fear in her face, and the concern in my children’s eyes. Their feelings were so pronounced; I quickly found that each emotion was acutely mirrored with mine.

When I got to Richmond Hospital, I was in pain and unsure of where I was at that moment. It was all a blur. It seemed everything was happening so fast. But I could hear the voices of doctors and nurses, working feverishly to keep me alive. While I was scared, I knew I was in good hands.

Within minutes of my arrival at Richmond Hospital, the Emergency Department medical team performed an electrocardiography (ECG) test to confirm if indeed, it was a heart attack. It was. They quickly inserted IVs and gave me life-saving medication including blood thinners. After my condition stabilized, the internal medicine and cardiology specialists took great care of me over the next three weeks.

In this dark hour, Richmond Hospital staff supported my family and me with acts of true kindness and compassion.

I am incredibly thankful to Dr. Siu Him Chan, Dr. Satnam Gandham, Dr. Clement Kwok, Dr. Justin Sun and all the nurses for the great care they provided. They truly helped support me and my family during this difficult time. I can’t tell you how impressed and grateful I am for Richmond Hospital.

When I tell everyone about my heart attack now, I tell them that the medical teams at Richmond Hospital really went above and beyond in the level of health care they provided and the compassion they showed my family and me. At Richmond Hospital, they really do care.

I will continue advocating for improvements to Richmond Hospital and remain a champion for improving the quality of care given to this community. I will do my best to spread this awareness and create support for this hospital and this city that I love and call home.

This experience has made me appreciate life more, but it also made me appreciate the people in the hospital industry much more. I owe my life to them.

Without strong community support no hospital can provide their patients with the caring and compassionate treatment I received. I feel at home when I visit Richmond Hospital. And as you know, that feeling takes support to create. So, I’d like to thank you for your recent dedication towards making our community better. Your support has been invaluable to Richmond Hospital, and allows it to provide exemplary service using your personal donations.

I hope you can find it in your heart to continue to give something to our community.

Balwant Sanghera

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