Mountain-climbing heart transplant recipient takes his inspirational story
across Canada

Sylvain Bédard speaking to transplant patients and families in Calgary on August 20

CALGARY, Aug. 19 /CNW Telbec/ - To recover from life-threatening heart disease as a teenager by having a heart transplant and building a successful adult life as a father of five is remarkable. To become a world-class mountain climber, reaching the summit of the likes of France's Mont Blanc, is also remarkable. For this all to be lived and achieved by one person is truly extraordinary.

That is the story of Sylvain Bédard of Montreal, who is now on a trans-Canada tour, including major parts by bicycle, that he calls a "Transformative Journey - Engaging Life after Transplantation."

The journey brings Sylvain to Calgary on Friday evening, August 20, where he will give a public lecture about his extraordinary personal story from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Delta Bow Valley, Garden Patio, 209, 4th Avenue S.E.

Everyone is welcome attend to hear Sylvain's story.

The Transformative Journey began in Vancouver on August 14 and will wrap up in Montreal on August 31. For further information and registration, visit www.transformativejourney.ca. Members of the public wanting to register for the talk can call 1-888-726-8060 or e-mail cbasile@medplan.ca.

Sylvain's journey with heart disease began in 1980 when he was 12, the year his 18-year-old sister died of cardiac arrest while she was exercising. He was diagnosed with cardiac hypertrophy, a hereditary disease that causes thickening of the heart tissue. By 1987 his doctor was discussing the possibility of a heart transplant and in 1993 Sylvain became just the third Canadian to have an artificial pacemaker and defibrillator implanted.

In the summer of 2000, Sylvain received what he calls "the greatest gift in the world - a healthy heart." The Christmas before, he had been given a new pair of running shoes but he refused to wear them until he had a healthy heart so he could use them to take his first steps as a healthy 32-year-old man. He did, and after that they came with him wherever he went.

In the 10 years since his transplant, Sylvain has pursued his goal of conquering physical and psychological mountains. In 2003 he became the first Canadian heart transplant patient to reach the top of France's Mont Blanc and the following year he became the first heart transplant patient to pass the 6,000-metre mark on Mount Sajama, Bolivia.

Now he is continuing his work of helping others facing or adapting to a transplant to overcome their obstacles. "The Transformative Journey speaking tour is an opportunity for me to connect with other transplant patients across Canada and their families to let them know they are not alone in the difficulties they experience in this journey," Sylvain said. "There are resources available to them and they should be empowered to seek out information."

The Transformative Journey has already proven successful, with patients and their families responding well to his messages and inspiration at his stops across Canada. "I'm very thankful for the sponsorship of Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada, a leader in developing the medications transplant patients need, which has made this Transformative Journey possible," he said.

SOURCE TRANSFORMATIVE JOURNEY

For further information: For further information: Katherine Vanda, HKDP Communications and Public Affairs, 514 395-0375, ext. 232

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TRANSFORMATIVE JOURNEY

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