Suzie Bruce, left, and Ray Bruce, right, holding Ray’s heart after his transplant. His old heart was donated to the Cardiovascular Tissue Registry at the Centre for Heart Lung Innovation, where it will be used for research and educational purposes. (Submitted photo)

Suzie Bruce, left, and Ray Bruce, right, holding Ray’s heart after his transplant. His old heart was donated to the Cardiovascular Tissue Registry at the Centre for Heart Lung Innovation, where it will be used for research and educational purposes. (Submitted photo)

Police officer shows a lot of heart in overnight effort to get B.C. senior a new heart

Qualicum Beach man just makes transplant deadline in amazing story out of Vancouver Island

When a heart became suddenly available last autumn for a Qualicum Beach man awaiting a desperately needed transplant, time was of the essence.

But he couldn’t be reached.

So on that fateful night, many worked in concert to alert William ‘Ray’ Bruce, including an unlikely person an Oceanside RCMP constable who just happened to be on duty.

Cst. Tyler Jensen knew all too well that fast action was critical when awaiting an organ transplant: his father-in-law just received a new liver two weeks prior.

“I knew how important it was and wanted to help and do everything I could,” he said.

On Sept. 26, 2020, Jensen received a call just before midnight from Dr. Margot Davis, a cardiologist from St. Paul’s hospital in Vancouver.

Dr. Davis had already spent several hours trying to get in touch with Bruce, his wife and anyone else on the contact list, but wasn’t having any luck.

“The cardiologist and I had batted around ideas and I said in the end, ‘let’s just call the police’. Because what civil resources are there in the night, and who else can you call to help?,” said Dr. Jamil Bashir, the surgeon who performed Bruce’s heart transplant.

At first Jensen attempted to call Bruce and his family, as Dr. Davis had done, but he too could not reach them.

For a brief moment the constable even considered Bruce’s previous address on Lasqueti island, though soon realized there wasn’t enough time to physically get there. In his research, Jensen was able to locate the address of Bruce’s daughter and son-in-law’s property in Spider Lake, a small community approximately 20 kilometres inland from Qualicum Beach.

READ MORE: B.C. sets records for lung, heart, liver transplants in 2020

Bruce told the PQB News cellphone service can sometimes be weak in the area and assumed that had been the case, as neither his nor his wife’s phone rang once throughout that night.

Jensen decided to drive out to the property and assumed he could simply walk up to the front door and knock.

“I couldn’t get up close to the house because of a tall fence that had big spikes on top and then the rest of the property was guarded by thorn bushes,” he said.

The constable then turned on his vehicle’s lights, sirens and spotlight, hoping the commotion would at least get someone’s attention.

He tried Bruce again, still without an answer.

Time continued to tick by.

Eventually Jensen had to call St. Paul’s and advise them that he couldn’t get in touch with Bruce either.

“If you don’t have the right person at that point, you have to let the organ go. And letting an organ go means letting the chance at life for someone go, too. So it was either Ray, or it was going to get wasted,” said Dr. Bashir.

Shortly after the call to St. Paul’s, however, Jensen spotted a neighbour with a flashlight. He advised the neighbour what he was trying to do, and fortunately the neighbour had a cell number for Bruce’s son-in-law, and was able to reach Bruce’s daughter.

Thanks to the officer’s persistence, Bruce and his wife, Suzie, caught the 6:30 a.m. ferry from Departure Bay to Horseshoe Bay the next morning.

READ MORE: Organ transplant recipients express thanks and also thank new donors in advance

Dr. Bashir said the latest time Bruce absolutely had to be on the operating table by was 11 a.m. on Sept. 27.

He and Suzie made it to St.Paul’s with just enough time to prep for surgery.

His needed for a new heart started in August 2019 after he survived an immense heart attack while chopping wood at his home on Lasqueti Island.

According to Dr. Bashir, Bruce had Ischemic cardiomyopathy, a condition where the heart muscle was weakened as a result of a heart attack. In the months following, Bruce underwent several rigorous assessments to ensure he was a good candidate for a transplant. He was officially placed on the list nearly a year after his attack, and received the transplant only 31 days later.

He was one of 30 adults to receive a heart transplant from St. Paul’s in 2020.

“We actually have quite an exceptional donor supply that is really a tragedy in some ways, because a lot of it is related to the fentanyl epidemic and overdoses. The organ supply has been unfortunately large. It’s a double-edged sword, for sure,” said Dr. Bashir.

Since Bruce came to Canada from England in the early ’90s, he said he now considers himself a ‘true Canadian at heart.’

When possible, he and Suzie plan to meet Const. Jensen and properly thank him for the amazing effort he made.

Bruce also asks the public to seriously consider registering as an organ donor. Doing such a small thing can have a huge impact on someone else’s life in the future, he said.

Registering as an organ donor can be done online at transplant.bc.ca.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

mandy.moraes@pqbnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

Healthqualicum beachRCMP

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sooke plans to begin construction of the $4.9-million Church Road corridor project this summer. (Kevin Laird - Sooke News Mirror)
Sooke hopes to start Church Road Corridor project this summer

Road upgrade includes a roundabout, sidewalks, bike lanes and boulevards

The site of the proposed rental housing development at 2197 Otter Point Rd. (District of Sooke)
District of Sooke approves development with 77 rental units

New parking lot for John Phillips Memorial Park included in project

Traffic is backed up due to a crash on Highway 1. (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)
Traffic backs up on Highway 1 westbound in View Royal after crash

First responders are reportedly on the scene in View Royal

Police are looking for the driver of this truck after it nearly hit a group of kids in Esquimalt on Thursday. (Photo courtesy of Victoria Police)
Victoria police looking for driver of truck that nearly missed kids before crashing in Esquimalt

The truck’s driver, a man, fled the scene after the truck crashed into a house’s fence

A driver stopped by Saanich police following a road rage incident on April 15 was found to be impaired, in violation of a license restriction and in a damaged vehicle. They received a 90-day driving prohibition and a 30-day vehicle impound. (Saanich Police Traffic Safety Unit/Twitter)
Driver stopped on Pat Bay Highway after road rage reports fails breathalyzer test: police

Several witnesses reported driver to Saanich police, school officer intercepted

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

The corner of 96th Avenue and Glover Road in Fort Langley now has traffic signals, and new “touchless” signal activation buttons. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Busy Fort Langley intersection gets ‘touchless’ crosswalk signals

The new traffic light started operation in April

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

The District of Sooke will continue to flower with Communities in Bloom. (Pixabay)
Sooke will bud but not bloom in provincial competition

Council scales back participation in Communities in Bloom

An armed officer walks outside Cerwydden Care on Cowichan Lake Road near Skinner Road Wednesday, April 14 around 5:30 p.m. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Police standoff at Duncan apartment ends peacefully

Officers surround building as homeowner held in apartment for nearly four hours by adult son

Latest modelling by public health shows cases generated by COVID-19 infections into places where it can spread quickly. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
Industrial sites, pubs, restaurants driving COVID-19 spread in B.C.

Infection risk higher in offices, retail, warehouses, farms

Hwy. 4 was shut down in both directions for 10 hours on March 23 as a rock bluff was blasted as part of Kennedy Hill’s ongoing construction. Commuters can expect five more 10 hour closures on five consecutive Wednesdays beginning April 28. (Photo courtesy of Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)
Five 10-hour Pacific Rim highway closures planned in the next 6 weeks

Closures needed for rock blasting as part of the Kennedy Hill Safety Improvement project.

Most Read