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Your Stories

Michael Thor

Blond woman ans man with dark hair sitting in front of a house

“One day I was healthy, and two days later my entire world was turned upside down.”
~ Michael Thor

When Michael Thor arrived at Georgian Bay General Hospital (GBGH) suffering from severe stomach pain and a rapidly increasing fever, he knew that there was something seriously wrong. But he never expected that a CT scan would show he had a perforated bowel and needed immediate life-saving surgery.

Everything moved so fast,” recalls Michael of his shocking diagnosis. “Dr. Sacks, my surgeon, came in and told me that my temperature was going up. I was going into septic shock and there really wasn’t a lot of time. I had to have surgery and I needed to do it right now. She said she could get her surgical team assembled within an hour.

I had a temperature of 106 degrees by then and hospital staff was packing my body in ice and giving me morphine for the pain. I was kind of out of it with the pain meds, but my wife Sarah was in shock and deeply worried. She asked Dr. Sacks if she would recommend this surgery if it was her husband. And Dr. Sacks told her, ‘Absolutely. You don’t really have a choice. This surgery needs to happen now.’”

With no time to spare, Michael underwent an emergency six-hour surgery while Sarah anxiously waited for news.

The infection was worse than Dr. Sacks thought,” says Michael. “She estimated the surgery would take two hours, but the infection was so bad, that it took six hours and they had to remove 2.5 feet of my bowel. I will never be able to thank Dr. Sacks enough for assembling her team so quickly and performing the surgery. They saved my life! And the nursing staff that took care of me, both in surgery and while I was recovering in the hospital, were absolutely exceptional. I am so profoundly grateful for the care that I received.”

Having lived in the community for 25 years, Michael and Sarah are long-time donors of the hospital and understand the importance of supporting their community.

While I was in the hospital, I learned that GBGH could only perform one surgery at a time, because the surgical video tower in the second operating room wasn’t functional for most procedures,” says Michael.

Nine people in either gowns or scrubs gathering around or sitting on a bed in the operating room

Front row – Donors Michael & Sarah Thor; Back row (from left) – Dr. Eileen Sacks, surgeon and president, Medical Staff Association, GBGH; Jen Russell, development associate, GBGH Foundation; Gail Hunt, president and CEO, GBGH; Dr. Paige Churchill, surgeon and chief of Surgery, GBGH; Lucille Perreault, vice president, Clinical Services and chief nursing executive, GBGH; Toni Whittaker, manager, Surgical Services, GBGH; and Marnie Lightfoot, director, Patient Care, GBGH.

Sarah and I could not have imagined if I’d had to wait for surgery, or if someone else with a life-threatening condition had to wait while I was in there, so we decided to raise funds to purchase a second video tower,” says Michael. The Thors personally committed $10,000 to the project and nine friends and clients collectively contributed the other $70,000 for this essential operating room upgrade.

Our hospital cares about you and in return we need to really care about our hospital. We need to have the best equipment for our doctors to perform surgery and care for our community.  I was lucky to have the care and surgery I needed within my community. I encourage everyone to get involved – in any way they can – to help our hospital. You never know when you or a loved one will need it.

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