Cold Hands, Warm Hearts

February 17, 2023

Retired Indian-Canadian business leader Hemant M Shah has a saying about his adopted home.

“I always say that in Winnipeg our hands are cold, but our hearts are warm,” said Shah on a video call from his birthplace of Mumbai. “I am proud to be called a Winnipegger.”

At age 68, Shah spent 19 days in St. Boniface Hospital in the summer of 2021 while receiving life-saving cardiac care.

“St. Boniface Hospital cardiac care is one of the best programs of its kind in all of Canada. I am firmly convinced of that,” he said.

Shah moved to Winnipeg in 1975. He earned the nickname “Mr. India” by forging bonds between Manitoba businesses and customers in India, using a lifetime of knowledge and experience in international trade and business development. He was also an executive in the heavy equipment and aviation industries.

Code Blue at Victoria Hospital

Shah was at home with his family in June 2021, making plans to celebrate Father’s Day when he had what he thought was an upset stomach or indigestion.

His wife, Hina, had been a health-care worker for many years at Victoria Hospital. She thought she could hear fluid in his lungs and rushed him to Urgent Care at the Vic.

“A nurse put me in a wheelchair. The doctor walked into the room and asked me how I was,” recalled Shah. “The last thing I remember was answering, ‘I am not feeling great,’ and that was it. The next thing I knew, I woke up in St. Boniface Hospital in the Cardiac Care Unit.”

Shah found out that he had experienced a Code Blue – cardiac arrest. Five of his major arteries were blocked.

“I had been gone for 16 minutes, with them performing CPR on me at the Victoria Hospital,” he said. “After I was stabilized, they moved me to St. Boniface for open-heart surgery on June 30th. They gave me a totally new (cardiac) system.”

“My doctors all gave my care that personal touch.”

A team of seven physicians was attending, said Shah. “The health-care team, the nurses, they gave me 200 per cent. I am a very bad patient, but they gave me soothing comfort. My doctors all gave my care that personal touch.”

One of them, Dr. Nitin Ghorpade , Interim Medical Director of Cardiac Surgery at St. Boniface, is also from Mumbai. “He even spoke to me in my native tongue,” said Shah.

“They all explained what was happening to me with emotions – there were feelings behind it – as one human being to another.”

Monthly giving “a commitment”

As a Foundation donor himself, Shah suggests all Manitobans should, in his words, humbly think about supporting St. Boniface as monthly donors.

“I believe it is our moral duty to support cardiac care, other patient care, and research at the Hospital,” he said, adding that such funding can lead to new medical equipment, leading-edge technology, and research discoveries.

The Foundation has almost 300 donors who choose to give monthly.

Slipping into an old habit as a retired businessman, Shah quickly did the math in his head. “Imagine the difference it would make if even 5,000 Manitobans were to support the Hospital with just $20 each a month,” he marveled. “That’s the cost of one meal.”

“As Manitobans, I believe that we need to commit to our health-care facility. I must say, we are blessed to have one of the best such facilities in Canada. St. Boniface has the best doctors and nurses; the best possible care.”

“There are other Hemant M Shahs out there, others like me, who are going to need cardiac care at the Hospital to save their lives,” he said. “So, I humbly request to others, make a commitment.”

Will you answer Hemant M Shah’s call? Make a lasting impact by signing up to become a monthly donor today.