Business community rallies around University of Ottawa Heart Institute

Caroline Phillips
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Dr. Fraser Rubens’ two worlds – saving lives and singing opera – seemed to collide Monday when the Ottawa cardiac surgeon performed from Bizet’s ever-popular Carmen (the story ends with a fatal knife wound for the central character) on the same day he found himself operating on a patient with a stab to the heart.

“I’m thinking, ‘This is Carmen on the table,’” the trained tenor recalled while engaging with his audience of 150-plus at a benefit for the University of Ottawa Heart Institute (UOHI), held in one of the backstage rehearsal halls at the National Arts Centre.

He and soprano Maghan McPhee were accompanied by Matthew Larkin on a magnificent $170,000-Steinway Spirio from the piano store on Innes Road.

The second annual sold-out event, called Music for the Heart, was hosted by Leaders at Heart, a group of business folks and philanthropists who raise money and awareness for the Heart Institute. The reception was followed by a concert with the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra in the NAC’s Southam Hall.  

Event chair Bill Sioulas, with Golpro Holdings, and Leaders at Heart chair and UOHI Foundation board member Nick Pantieras, from Primecorp Commercial Realty, were on hand to present a $32,000 ceremonial cheque to UOHI Foundation president and CEO Jim Orban. The proceeds will go toward buying highly specialized equipment for the Heart Institute’s new 170,000-square-foot expansion, slated to open in just over a year.

Pantieras, a married father of three, credits the Heart Institute for saving his life. Thirteen years ago, he suffered a heart attack, at age 37, during a game of pick-up hockey. He was operated on by Dr. Marc Ruel, now chief of cardiac surgery at the Heart Institute.

Shared with the room was a charming CTV Ottawa News story done on Pantieras, to raise awareness over National Heart Month. “Without the Heart Institute, I wouldn’t be here today,” Mr. Pantieras, who was joined by his family and business partners, said in his remarks. “We are fortunate to have a world-class organization in our backyards.”

Attendees included Honey Construction president Doug Assaly; Jacques Emond, a senior law partner at Emond Harnden, and past chair of the UOHI Foundation board; and the hospital’s founding chief of cardiology, Dr. Don Beanlands.

Organizations: Heart Institute, University of Ottawa Heart Institute, National Arts Centre UOHI Foundation Ottawa Symphony Orchestra Golpro Holdings CTV Ottawa News Honey Construction

Geographic location: Innes Road

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