Celebrating life, love, and resilience during Heart Month 2024

There’s a reason hearts have become synonymous with life and love. Crack open a book, walk into a chocolate shop on Valentine’s Day, and notice how hearts are used to depict the very centre of emotion, of human life. We can give our hearts away; we can wear them on our sleeve… but we can’t live without them. At the MUHC foundation, we celebrated heart month by paying tribute to the MUHC’s cardiology experts, who are fighting for every heart.

From growing heart tissue in a petri dish, to finding less-invasive ways to perform life-saving heart surgery, the MUHC’s heart specialists are working around the clock to fix broken hearts, and they couldn’t have done it with you, our generous community of donors. A testament to your commitment to bettering our community, our Dream Big: Fix Broken Hearts campaign has already raised a remarkable $18 million towards this goal.

“From the bottom of my heart, and on behalf of the many patients who have benefited from the incredible care offered at the MUHC, I want to express my profound gratitude to all of the donors who have made all of this a reality,” shares Dr. Renzo Cecere, the MUHC’s Director of Cardiac Surgery.

We know that the situation is dire: heart-related health problems are increasing across Canada, where approximately 2.6 million adults have some form of heart disease. This is why we’re funding innovative heart health research and cutting-edge equipment that enables our specialists to perform less invasive, life-saving surgery. Since you’re helping us do it, we thought it would be nice to share an update on the impact we’re making.

We know that every heart is unique, which is why the MUHC’s experts like Dr. Nadia Giannetti and Dr. Cecere are growing patients’ heart tissue in petri dishes to enable close study and personalized treatment approaches. Called the Heart in a Dish program, this innovative study is blurring the line between science fiction and reality, and signals that the future of medicine is here.

“By growing each individual’s heart muscle, we can see what the problem is and test ways to improve their health. We hope that in the near future, we'll be able to personalize the way we treat people with weak heart muscles to help them live longer, healthier lives,” says Dr. Giannetti.

The Fix Broken Hearts campaign specifically funds these innovative projects because they dramatically increase the quality of life for patients with severe heart failure. In many instances, providing patients with another chance at life.

“What I love the most about my job is being able to offer patients not just a life, but a lifetime of wellbeing. For instance, heart transplantation is the gold standard, but the MUHC has access to innovative technology that helps provide a quality of life that patients deserve while they wait for a heart transplant,” says Dr. Cecere.

At the MUHC Foundation, we advocate for every heart, especially the ones who’ve been left behind. This is why we’re funding innovative new projects like Dr. Judy Luu’s POWERHub, Pathways to Cardiovascular care for women in Ethnic, Racialized, and Remote communities, which is making health care more inclusive and revolutionizing heart care for women in Quebec, especially those from underserved communities.

Moreover, the MUHC’s heart specialists aren’t just physicians, they’re also leading scientists, and Nurse-Clinicians with a vision for making heart care more accessible, like Wendy Wray. Wendy is the Nurse Director of the Women’s Healthy Heart Initiative (WHHI), a nurse-led heart disease prevention clinic fully funded by donations to the MUHC Foundation. The project is the first of its kind in Quebec and strives to increase awareness and accessibility to heart care for women in Montreal.

“The support of the WHHI is contingent on the generosity of our donors, who are helping us make heart care more accessible for women. We’re bridging the research gap that exists between both sexes, and empowering women with knowledge that will save their lives,” says Wendy Wray.

Monique Chalifour, a mother of two young children, went from being healthy and active, to battling heart failure at 37. A few months ago, Monique received a life-saving heart transplant, performed by Dr. Cecere.

“To anyone who has ever donated to the Fix Broken Hearts campaign, thank you from the very bottom of my new-to-me heart. You never know when or how your support will make a difference, and in my case, never in a million years would I have thought that I would be in a position of receiving the impact of your donations,” says Monique. “This new-to-me-heart has gifted me a future with my family that would otherwise never have been possible. You’ve truly kept me alive, and not only alive, but I’m starting to thrive again. And I’m so excited to see what the future brings!”

Monique’s story is just one example of the impact you’re making. Every initiative, every project, is inspired by the needs of real people. Your donation turns inspiration into innovation that saves lives.

Thank you for making Heart Month a memorable one. We hope that you’ll continue supporting our Dream Big: Fix Broken Hearts campaign, and advocate for every heart with us.

Marisol Scanlon is breathing easier thanks to asthma care at the MCI