Heart patient honours staff after life-saving surgery

Toronto realtor Dov Markowich was working from home in early February 2022 when a sharp pain tore through his chest down to his lower back. While it was a pain unlike anything he’d ever experienced – he hoped it would go away on its own.

But only a minute later he was flat on the floor, unable to stand from the pain and calling 911 for help.

The 42-year-old was rushed to Toronto Western Hospital, part of University Health Network (UHN), and assessed by Emergency Department physicians Drs. Jesse McLaren and Dennis Cho. After a CAT scan, Dr. Cho recognized the urgency of the situation and Dov was again rushed by ambulance to UHN’s Toronto General Hospital to be treated for an aortic dissection – a serious and often deadly condition where the wall of the body’s main artery is torn, causing blood to pool in the heart and the aorta to split.

There, Dr. Jennifer Chung, cardiovascular surgeon at UHN’s Peter Munk Cardiac Centre quickly explained the procedure she would perform and the odds of survival – which, thanks to the quick thinking of all medical professionals involved – were a promising 80 per cent. But that other 20 per cent weighed heavily on Dov.

“As I laid on the table looking up at all the faces around the operating table, I started tearing up,” says Dov. That’s when it hit me emotionally, thinking that these could potentially be the last faces I would see.”

Thankfully, Dr. Chung successfully performed the seven-hour surgery and Dov woke up to see his dad’s smiling face, grateful to be alive.

Today Dov is recovering well. He’s back to a modified work out plan and will begin cardiac rehab soon. He’s also undergoing genetic testing to find out why this happened to him at his age – it’s most common in men over 60.

He feels tremendous gratitude for the team that saved his life – and feels compelled to give back in any way that he can.

To show his gratitude, Dov made a donation to UHN Foundation through the Honour Your Hero program. Honour Your Hero allows patients and their loved ones to recognize their care providers and share a message of gratitude with them, while also making a gift in support of research, education and the enhancement of patient care at UHN.

Dov made his gift in honour of Drs. Cho, Chung and McLaren, along with the entire Toronto Western Hospital Emergency Department team.

“I can’t thank the physicians, nurses and staff at UHN enough for saving my life, along with all the other lives that they tend to and care for,” says Dov. “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”

To learn more about the Honour Your Hero program or to make a gift, visit honouryourhero.ca.

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