A day after Guisen He, 75, finished his second round of chemotherapy for stomach cancer, his wife realized something wasn’t right.   

Instead of experiencing familiar side effects that he had experienced during his first round of chemotherapy, he remained still in bed, his legs moved from time to time, and she noticed his eyes were rolling back.  

After calling their daughter Sherry, they decided to take Guisen to the Nick and Roseanne Cortellucci Emergency Department at Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital. When they arrived, the medical team determined he was having a seizure. Guisen had lost consciousness and before they knew it, Sherry recalls doctors and nurses running to her dad’s side to assess the situation and quickly start treatment in the Critical Care Unit.  

“It was New Year’s Eve, we couldn’t see my dad, but Dr. Sissi Cao and the nurses explained what treatments they were doing to help my dad, what the next steps were for us as family members and although we didn’t know what was going on, the doctor explained all the potential scenarios, and the work they would do to get him back to a normal place,” says Sherry.  

Guisen had been seeking cancer care treatment at a hospital outside of York Region, but for ease of travel and living nearby, the family requested for Guisen to undergo chemotherapy at Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital. This allowed them to be close to his side and have faster access to care.  

Dr. Cao, an intensivist at Mackenzie Health, took the lead in caring for Guisen when he was first admitted to the hospital. Guisen required intubation for airway protection and life support while the care team investigated what was causing the seizures and managed his treatment.  

 “I am glad to know I had a meaningful impact on Mr. Guisen's care and was able to support his family during a critical time. The dedicated care and attention provided to patients by our team, including nurses, respiratory therapists and pharmacists is our greatest strength,” says Dr. Cao. “While our ICU's technology and equipment provide significant support to critically ill organs when it matters most, it is the reactionary efforts and immediate care by the people at Mackenzie Health set us apart even further.” 

After Guisen arrived from the Emergency Department, he was transferred to Critical Care.   

Guisen was connected to a ventilator and an Electroencephalogram (EEG), and a diagnostic test was conducted every day to measure his brain activity. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans were also done frequently. After 10 days in Critical Care, he woke up and remained in the hospital’s care in the C4 Medicine Aqua unit for additional treatment and assessments before being discharged home. 

“When I was in Critical Care, everyone was very patient and they even found a staff member who spoke Mandarin to help understand my needs, and that was important for me,” says Guisen. “Many seniors in Richmond Hill don’t speak English and having staff available to speak different languages helped my health care treatment and it will support others in the future.” 

Guisen returned home after two weeks in the hospital. He and his family express their heartfelt thanks to Mackenzie Health staff and doctors for responding quickly and saving his life. 

“We are so lucky for the care my dad received at Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital,” says Sherry. “We were told the seizure could have had many long-term effects, and we are just happy he woke up and is doing much better.”