When a Didsbury man, Neil Lunn, won the 2014 STARS LOTTERY grand prize - a $1.3 million home in Calgary, he told STARS that he would continue buying tickets because there might come a time when he would need them. It turns out that nearly a decade later what he predicted was right.
In late January, Lunn suffered a cardiac issue at his home. He was transported from the hospital in Didsbury to a Calgary hospital by STARS.
The STARS team was able to place an external pacemaker that would keep Lunn alive if he became unstable during the flight. That temporary procedure, coupled with the support of a physician on board, made them confident he could withstand the transport to Calgary.
Midflight, paramedic Greg Barton noticed Lunn sitting up and chuckling to himself, seemingly taking in the experience. It was at that point Lunn informed the crew that he had won the dream home nine years earlier and now was in awe of how things had come full circle.
“He took an interest in supporting our organization years ago and had the good fortune of winning the dream home, and now he’s laying on our stretcher with a critical issue … it was a surreal moment; I was happy to be able to help him,” said Barton.
Barton added that this kind of encounter was a first for him in his more than 20 years as a flight paramedic. Upon arriving at the hospital, his condition suddenly worsened.
“As we were transferring him to the hospital bed his heart stopped … and we were able to electrically pace him,” Barton said.
The STARS team kept him alive with medical equipment, while the team at the receiving hospital inserted a central line and pacemaker directly into his heart.
The external pacemaker that STARS had placed prior to departure turned out to be integral to Lunn’s survival that day.
Now back at his home in Didsbury, Lunn is recovering and returning to his normal activity. When asked if the couple would continue supporting STARS LOTTERY, his wife Mona Cardinal didn't hesitate.
“We get our tickets as soon as we can; that’s one thing we’ll always do.”
Tickets for the STARS LOTTERY can be purchased until March 22, 2023, and the draws will take place on April 5, 2023.
To get yours, visit starslottery.ca.