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Cheering for Brett

Brett MacLean is a local pro hockey player who dropped to the ice with no vital signs while at a game in July. He was revived by bystanders at the rink, and treated in the Owen Sound hospital before being air lifted to London. Brett's mom, (a former GBHS nurse) tells the story of what happened to her young son, and how thankful she is of the care he received.

Brett MacLean was drafted by the Phoenix Coyotes hockey team in 2007. Every summer he comes home to Port Elgin and plays hockey in Owen Sound with the same group of people he has skated with for years, but on July 2, Brett, a healthy 23 year-old, dropped unconscious on the ice in the middle of the game. No one saw him go down.

Two of his fellow teammates started CPR as Brett lay on the ice. A firefighter at the rink called 911, then grabbed the rink's portable defibrillator and gave Brett's heart a shock within about three minutes of him losing consciousness. Paramedics arrived, and used a defibrillator two more times. He was rushed by ambulance to the Owen Sound hospital.

Brett's parents were several hours away on a camping trip when they got the call from the hospital about their son.

"I called in to the Emergency Department and he had already been moved to ICU (intensive care unit),” said Brett's mom Karen MacLean, a nurse with the Community Care Access Centre. “The charge nurse was wonderful and kind, and briefly told us that Brett had had a lethal arrhythmia and that they had stabilized him, but we needed to get there as soon as we could. So we jumped in the car and on route a couple of times our younger son, who was at the hospital, would call us with little updates. Before we arrived in Owen Sound, they called to say the air ambulance was on the way. They were hoping we would get there in time to see him before he left."

Karen and her husband did get to see their son briefly as he was being prepared for an air transfer to London Health Sciences Centre. Brett had been stabilized at the Owen Sound hospital, and was being sent to London for tests to determine what caused the arrhythmia.

In the end, no cause was found, and Brett was fitted with an implantable cardiac defibrillator. He can have a normal active life, although he can't push his heart to any extremes and has had to give up his professional hockey career. "He is doing fairly well, he has had lots of support from the hockey community and his friends," says Karen.

"We are very appreciative of the care that he got in the hospital there, and obviously the healthcare system as a whole from the bystanders, EMS, the Emerg. Department, ICU. Everything worked to make the outcome that we got so we are very, very appreciative. Brett is still young enough to do lots of things and he is very appreciative of the healthcare that he has received. That's our experience at the hospital in Owen Sound. Everyone was wonderful and obviously he got great care."

Brett's time in the Owen Sound hospital was very short, but the GBHS staff are extremely relieved to know that Brett is healthy and doing well. We are confident that the dedication, skills and determination that got Brett into the NHL will serve him well in whatever path he chooses next. We wish him the very best.

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