Meet Paul: A second chance at life

Paul Fontaine’s cardiologist said that to him the morning after Fontaine had his pacemaker put in at St. Boniface Hospital to steady his heartbeat. Those words answered any questions he had. 

“They still echo in his mind to this day,” said Fontaine. “I will get to see my children, Emmett and Elena, grow up.” 

Fontaine came close to death one week before his 33rd birthday. His wife, Shay, was eight months pregnant with Elena at the time. 

He has a rare inflammatory condition called cardiac sarcoidosis, which can cause clusters like scar tissue to form in his lungs and heart. 

They rushed to St. Boniface, where Fontaine had a pacemaker put in. He credits his nurses for keeping his spirits up while he was in the Hospital. 

On June 7, 2021, Fontaine was at work. It was the end of the day. He started to feel as if he had tunnel vision, or his eyes were struggling to focus. 

His partner picked him up. Fortunately for Fontaine, the couple had to pick up their son, Emmett, at Shay’s parents’ house.  

Her mom, a former nurse, took one look at him and said, “You need to sit down, Paul.” She took his pulse; it was 34 beats per minute – dangerously low. 

In the Emergency Department, they moved him to an isolation room, set up all the IVs and machines, and hooked him up. Then they put in the temporary defibrillator, inserted through an incision in his neck. It would stay there for 24 hours. 

His nurse, Stu, made the process more comfortable for him. “I tend to think I’m a positive person, so I tried to keep joking around and trying to laugh. Stu joined in, making jokes to help me feel better and put me at ease,” said Fontaine. 

Fontaine’s health-care team told him that had he gone home after work, he would not have woken up the next morning. He would have gone into cardiac arrest, or he would have had a stroke. 

Today, “life is awesome,” says Fontaine. “I get to spend as much time as I can with my family. That is what I was put on this earth to do. I’ve always considered myself a family man, and I get to live that through now.” 


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