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MONTREAL, FEBRUARY 4, 2004– Émile Jutras, the youngest child in North America to have received a mechanical heart as a bridge to a heart transplant, will help launch Heart Week on Friday, February 6 (9 a.m.) at Coronation Elementary School (4810 Van Horne) in Côte des Neiges. This is an entirely new fundraising program being initiated by The Heart of Life Fund of The Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation and the English Montreal School Board.

Little Émile will be accompanied by his parents, doctors from the hospital and mascots from the campaign, in addition to official spokespersons Nick DeSantis and Mauro Biello, the coach and captain respectively of the Montreal Impact soccer team. Coronation is one of many EMSB schools where students will be outfitted in red on a specific day during Heart Week (February 9 to 13) On that day, each student with a healthy heart will be asked to bring a small donation - a loonie or toonie - to help a child with a "broken heart". This will also make kids think about helping others and appreciating their own good health.

Last summer Gary Silverman and Simone Leroux, of Le Fonds Au Coeur de la vie/The Heart of Life Fund, announced they would be starting a $1 million fund-raising campaign to support equipment and training for The Children’s cardiac team, with the involvement of Émile’s family. Au Coeur de la vie/The Heart of Life is a parents’ support and fund-raising group associated with The Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation. Launched in 1997 by parents of children born with heart defects who had undergone, at birth or at a very young age, a complex open heart surgery at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, it is spearheading Heart Week activities. Representatives will be visiting a number of EMSB schools next week.

Émile made headlines when he spent a total of 126 days on life support at The Children’s after a rare viral infection caused his heart to fail. His blood type and small size made the wait for a suitable heart a long one. He spent 17 days on ECMO (Extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation), and 109 days on the famous Berlin artificial heart. He was the first in Canada, and the youngest in North America, ever to use the Berlin heart, which was flown in from Germany especially for him. Finally, on July 3, 2002, he received a new heart.

Michael J. Cohen
Communications and Marketing Specialist
English Montreal School Board
Tel: (514) 483-7200 ext. 7243
Fax: (514) 483-7213