An older couple posed with his arm wrapped around her
Annette and Syed Ali had never heard of Michael Garron Hospital. But when Syed needed urgent laparoscopic surgery, they quickly learned what makes us the heart of the east.

Care that comes from the heart

When Syed Ali needed urgent surgery, his local hospital sent him here. The Michael Garron Hospital team provided expert care and compassion to Syed and his wife Annette, from the moment they arrived. Find out what they learned through their experience.

Annette Ali was going about her day when she suddenly heard her husband Syed in distress. She found him throwing up blood in their family room. Annette called 911 and an emergency crew arrived within minutes to transport Syed to their local hospital. 

With no means of following the ambulance on her own, Annette was terrified. “See, I don’t drive. I really didn’t know what to do. It all happened so suddenly. I just kept screaming and screaming.”

Eventually, Annette contacted a friend who brought her and her daughter to see Syed at their local hospital. It turned out that a hernia had ruptured in his abdomen, causing him to bleed internally. 

Annette was called back early the next day. “A nurse told me I had to come down immediately. She wouldn’t tell me why, just to hurry,” recalls Annette. “I got there as quickly as I could.”

At the hospital, Annette learned that Syed had gone into cardiac arrest. The team thought they were going to lose him. 

Fortunately, Syed’s condition stabilized. But it was clear that he needed surgery, and fast. The tear in Syed’s abdomen was spilling the contents of his stomach throughout his chest. A surgeon would need to operate laparoscopically, through a tiny incision. But there wasn’t a surgeon with this expertise on-site.

So the team prepared to transfer Syed to Michael Garron Hospital, where he was brought straight into the operating room. 

‘Their support carried me through.’

Accompanied by her brothers and sister, Annette found herself in unfamiliar surroundings with her husband entrusted to the care of people who were entirely new to them. “I’d never even heard of this hospital before,” she recalls. 

Then an amazing thing happened.

“As Syed got wheeled into the operating room, the nurses formed a circle around me,” Annette says. “Each of them looked me in the eyes and told me what they were going to do to take care of him. You could see it was all coming from the heart. Their support carried me through. They’re the reason Syed is still with me today.”

Dr. Negar Ahmadi, Thoracic and Foregut Surgeon, operated on Syed. “She came by several times afterwards to see how I was doing,” Syed says. 

To limit any risk of infection as he recovered, Annette could only see him through a window at first.

“I’ll never forget the nurse who came and hugged me. She said, ‘I know you’re going through a lot, but you’re going to be fine. Tomorrow I’ll be here and I’m going to make sure you have a nice chair so you can sit with him,’” recalls Annette. “That kindness isn’t something you’d expect in this day and age.” 

Treated like family

“The staff honestly treated me like family, like a father or son,” says Syed. “The nurses, the PSWs, the physiotherapists and the dietitian: all of them are such pleasant, happy people. And they didn’t take forever to come when I pressed the call button.” 

“I’m in awe of the care they took of our family. It all goes to show that there are still good people in the world,” says Annette. “Things happen in life, there are going to be bumps in the road. But you’ve got to trust people and hold on tight.”

Syed is happy to share that he is getting better and stronger every day. 

When they returned home, he and Annette donated generously to our hospital. “We really appreciate what they did for us,” says Syed. “So we wanted to do whatever we could to help the hospital in return.” 

Our hospital relies on support from people like you. To show your gratitude for the care you or a loved one received, please give at