“Our experience at St. Mary’s was great. My son was very happy with his care, which is saying a lot considering he’s an RRT. He was thankful for the care he received.”
The Ultimate Gift
Philanthropy comes full circle when a generous donor meets a grateful patient.
Christian Lepe is a warm and jovial guy, full of positivity and gratitude. He takes things in stride, including living with an undiagnosed condition that caused him to experience episodes of rapid heartbeats and dizziness for more than 20 years. Over the past two decades, he made several trips to the emergency room, where the only treatment offered was medication. “I just thought it was something I was going to have to live with all my life,” recalls Christian.
Christian’s last emergency room visit in 2018 scared him. During an electrocardiogram, Christian’s BPM (beats per minute) was reading dangerously high. Again, he was treated with medication and released. Shortly after, a friend recommended Venkat Devineni, M.D., a cardiologist at Providence St. Mary Medical Center. Dr. Devineni properly diagnosed Christian in 2021 with supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) and recommended a catheter ablation, which is 98 percent effective for treating SVT.
Catheter ablations are done in Providence St. Mary’s electrophysiology (EP) lab. This new donor-funded facility allows patients with heart rhythm problems, including SVT, atrial fibrillation and ventricular arrhythmias to be treated with leading-edge technology without leaving the High Desert.
Christian is extremely pleased with his results. He was discharged the same day and experienced very little discomfort. “I was walking the beach with my family the next day,” he shares. “It’s been a whole new life for me.”
Giving improves access to advanced care
Until Christian’s procedure in 2021, patients in the High Desert had to travel several hours to other facilities to get treatment in an EP lab. Thanks to a significant donation from Foundation board member Peter Allan, and other generous community members, Christian was the first patient to have the procedure done at the new state-of-the-art EP lab in his own community at Providence St. Mary Medical Center.
A native of Bath, England, Peter is a thoughtful man who is pleased his giving makes a tangible difference. “Community is so important to me,” shares Peter. “I want to focus on things that I think are important to the community. I see opportunities to help, and I act on them.”
And act he did. When Randy Castillo, chief executive officer at Providence St. Mary Medical Center, shared the vision for an EP lab at a gathering of the Foundation Board and influential donors, Peter lit up. He spoke up about his life-changing ablation procedure in Santa Monica and was the first to step up to support opening a local EP lab. “I love Providence St. Mary. I’ve been a patient two or three times, and it’s the epitome of what a hospital should be.” He adds, “When I learned about this need, I thought this is a cause I can really support.”
A grateful patient, a gratified donor
Donors rarely get to meet those impacted by their generosity. For Christian and Peter, it was a heartwarming, full-circle experience. The donor once walked in the patient’s shoes. The patient not only received a lifesaving gift, but he was able to thank the donor and express how he would pay it forward.
In anticipation of meeting Peter, Christian said, “I just want to give him a big man hug and say thank you a thousand times over.” He continues, “It feels so good to have the chance to say thank you to Peter for saving my life.”
Peter responded in kind, “All I can say is you are very, very welcome. I’m thrilled my donation has saved at least one life and, hopefully, many more. That’s a great feeling.”
Christian adds, “Peter has given me the opportunity to do more. When you think about it, to give someone their life back is an amazing gift.”
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Together, we can provide care that transforms lives, now and for years to come.