Patients and Families

Patient Stories

Paul Brunes, 31


Paul was born in the fall of 1978. From the get-go he was a very busy little guy who loved anything fast and moving. His passions growing up were sports, fast cars, boats, planes, helicopters…well, you get the picture. Up until his teens Paul played soccer, rugby, ice hockey, golf, and skied as well as logging several hours a day on his bike.

He was easygoing, energetic, fun loving, vibrant, generous, and he had the gift of being able to transcend racial, political, and class boundaries making him the most likeable guy on the planet. Of course, that infectious smile that was forever plastered on his face contributed too!

Paul did everything with gusto and nothing ever slowed him down, which is why when he complained intermittently of a racing heart it seemed odd.

We just discovered from an old high school sweetheart that the first incident happened in his late teens. He said to his then girlfriend that his heart sometimes beat very quickly and she confirmed that sometimes when she lay her head on his chest she would notice.

Other times throughout his twenties he would race into Per's (his father) room and say, "Man my hearts going crazy!" and he would visit the local ER only to be seen hours later when the symptoms had subsided on their own and he would be told to go home with no diagnosis.

After a couple of these visits we were starting to get suspicious but were never too alarmed because he was still so active. Nothing slowed him down. He was really into snowboarding, wake-boarding, wake surfing, mountain biking, golf, motocross, jet skiing, and his favourite past time - SNOWMOBILING. He excelled in all of these sports and amazed everyone with how easily he picked them up and how good he got at them. A natural!

During his mid 20's to 30's Paul was still having racing heart incidences and had gone to see his general practitioner and even a heart specialist. He had some tests done, EKG, and wore a heart monitor around for 24 hours but nothing out of the ordinary was found.

Then in January of 2010 a major incident occurred. Paul was snowmobiling with some friends when he passed out. He woke up on his own and he attributed the incident to a lack of oxygen from his helmet being packed with snow. He again went to a general practitioner, had the full cardiac workup (EKG, Echocardiogram, blood tests, 24 hr heart monitor). All of these results were inconclusive, but due to the seriousness of "the incident", a referral to the cardiologist was made, unfortunately no appointment was established.

The next time it happened snowmobiling on Saturday March 13 2010 he was not so lucky.

The Paul Brunes Foundation was founded shortly thereafter by the Brunes family. It's easy for healthy young people to slip through the cracks when it comes to heart disease diagnosis. It's the hope of the Brunes family that through Paul, other people with heart issues can be successfully diagnosed and treated and that progress can be made towards prevention and treatment of heart disease in people like him.

To achieve this goal the Brunes family has partnered with the VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation to raise $3 million to establish a Professorship in Heart Rhythm Disorders at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH).