Kyle Gowriluk is one of the best nursing students Kelowna General Hospital’s surgical unit has ever had, in no small part because the surgeons on the ward saved his life.
The 23-year-old was planning to become an engineer when he crashed his mountain bike in Salmon Arm, driving a tree into his hip and severing his femoral artery.
Most would likely bleed out from such an injury, particularly if perched on a mountain miles from help as Gowriluk was; but he got lucky and the accident changed the course of his life.
“I knew I hit an artery and I knew if you hit an artery…that’s not good,” he said Tuesday at a press conference for the Kelowna General Hospital Foundation’s new 5K Run in Colour fundraising initiative.
The foundation raises money to equip the ever-expanding hospital with the sorts of cutting-edge equipment needed to tackle a challenging surgery like Gowriluk’s.
His surgeon, Dr. Stephan Mostowy, was on hand for the event and said he used vein material from Gowriluk’s other leg to stop the bleeding and re-establishing blood flow.
Once out of surgery, the medical team struggled to stabilize the young man’s body as a long time had passed between the accident and his meeting with the Kelowna surgical team and his body was having trouble coping. With the tree limb still fully embedded in his leg, he had been transported first to the Salmon Arm hospital and then to Kelowna General, and the long wait had an impact on how his blood clotted post-surgery.
Having the tools necessary to make the repairs to Gowriluk’s body, and support him through the five days he spent in a coma, takes a lot of money.
“What the foundation does is amazing. It gives the hospital that community feel,” said Mostowy who says the doctors have a long list of equipment needs they would love to see help fuel the hospital’s physical expansion.
From opening one of only five B.C. sites upgraded for cardiac services—like angioplasty and cardiac surgery—to creating a cutting-edge trauma unit the envy of many Lower Mainland facilities, there’s no other hospital quite like it in Mostowy’s view.
This week’s announcement was to highlight a new initiative the foundation is offering in hopes of expanding the demographic scope of their donors.
A Run in Colour, or Colour Run as it is often called, is targeted at young professionals and young families willing to run five kilometres, from station to station, hurling colour on each other at every stop. A global phenomenon, the entertaining events started in the southern United States as a way for young adults and professionals to get out and have fun.
As a fundraiser, the event offers a more affordable option to the galas and dance fundraisers the KGH Foundation uses to draw big dollars from big donors and establishes an entry point for younger members of the community to begin a philanthropic relationship with the charity.
Kelowna’s run will cost $45 per individual and teams are encouraged to enter and raise $2000 or more to secure 10 free spots.
Mayor Walter Gray attended the announcement and prompted the kids gathered to help demonstrate how the run works to tell their parents they want to take part. He joked they would not have to shower for the rest of the summer if they come out.
Funds raised will help support KGH and the daily miracles it generates. In the last fiscal year, the hospital delivered 1,600 babies, admitted 20,000 patients and performed 32,000 inpatient surgeries and surgical daycare procedures.
The event runs Sept. 21 out of Waterfront Park at 10 a.m.; registration is now open.