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A pivotal moment transformed Jeannette’s life


Jeannette Cheng became a registered nurse at The Ottawa Hospital after life-threatening car accident changed the trajectory of her life.

There is often a moment in our lives that guides us down the path we’re destined to explore.

For Jeannette Cheng, that moment was a life-threatening car crash and the extraordinary care she received at The Ottawa Hospital.  In fact, Jeannette was so transformed by her experience that she became a nurse and returned to work at The Ottawa Hospital – the place that saved her life.

On Aug. 19, 2007, Jeannette and a group of her friends, all fourth-year I.T. students at Carleton University, were travelling to a whitewater rafting adventure.

They were driving through the Ottawa Valley when they were involved in a serious car crash. Three crash victims were taken to a nearby hospital. Jeannette, however, had life-threatening injuries, so she was airlifted to The Ottawa Hospital – home of the only trauma unit in Eastern Ontario.

Jeannette’s body was badly damaged. There was no time to waste.

First, a specialized trauma team operated to remove Jeannette’s spleen. Next, she had surgery to repair her fractured skull.  Finally, she had surgery on her pelvis.

The highly-skilled team was piecing her back together to try to save her life.

Jeannette finally woke up two weeks after the crash. She was scared and disoriented, but the nurses compassionately and carefully explained everything to her.

Although she was conscious, she was not out of the woods.

Just a few days later in the trauma unit, she started to bleed internally. Her medical team responded quickly.

Her attending physician, Dr. Giuseppe Pagliarello, came to see her right away. It was then that Jeannette had her life-changing moment. But the moment had nothing to do with her health and everything to do with which path she was going to follow in life.

When Dr. Pagliarello came to Jeannette’s bedside, he held her hand and spoke to her and the medical team about the next steps for her care. That small, simple gesture – holding her hand – and the confidence with which he spoke to the team, made Jeannette feel more secure.

It was the healing power of kindness.

Jeannette’s vision for her life become clear. In April 2018, Jeannette returned to the trauma unit at The Ottawa Hospital, but this time as a registered nurse.

It was her turn to help transform the lives of the most critically-injured patients with the help of new technology and world-changing discoveries in research.  She knew she wanted to be a part of creating a better tomorrow for our patients and our community.

But that’s not the only way Jeannette plans to give back. This year, she’s participating in the I Give @ TOH Employee Giving Campaign, which supports patient care and transformational research right here at The Ottawa Hospital.

You, too, can support this important initiative by filling out a pledge form or donating online today.


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