Heart Patient Speaks Out

A Windsor heart patient is stressing the importance of being your own health care advocate.

70-year-old Jim Kakuk, the father of AM800's Mike Kakuk, was not feeling well last spring and went to the doctor.  That's when he learned he'd suffered a stroke and heart attack because most of his arteries were clogged.

He was told he was not a candidate for heart bypass surgery because he was considered too high risk.

Doctors gave Kakuk medication and told him to live his life to the fullest.

With no options, Kakuk told CTV Windsor his son searched online for alternatives to open heart surgery and learned of a new procedure done at the Henry Ford Health Centre in Detroit.

He was approved for the procedure, but without medical insurance the cost was exorbitant.

"The doctors says I have colleagues in Toronto who can do the procedure for you.  He personally referred us to Toronto," says Kakuk.

Using angioplasty, doctors in Toronto put seven stints in Kakuk's arteries.

"The doctor says the one that was 100% blocked is now 100% open.  They opened me right up everywhere," says Kakuk.

Mike Kakuk told CTV Windsor he believes the health care system failed his father and his family.

"These doctors who are supposed to be specially trained specialists and some of the best in the world failed the system and failed my dad and failed my family.  Why didn't they know about this?" says the co-host of AM800's "The Morning Drive."

The elder Kakuk says a valuable lesson has been learned from his ordeal.

"Maybe somebody else can be saved by it and find out that this procedure is available and then you got to find out.  If you have a serious problem you've got to look into it and ask questions," says Kakuk.

He hopes by going public with his story it will help other families dealing with serious medical issues and spur them to ask questions and push for answers when there doesn't appear to be any.

The elder Kakuk says he wouldn't be alive today if he and his family had accepted what his doctors had to say about his condition.