Skip to main content

Victor’s victory: Heartfelt thanks for a future with family

As tears fill Rosa Jamero’s eyes, she realizes how much she almost lost; grateful her husband Victor survived a rare heart condition that could have killed him.

"I am so thankful, so thankful," said an emotional Rosa.

Rosa and Victor’s struggle begins more than a decade ago in their Philippines homeland.  

The couple, with two young children, noticed Victor was frequently breathless. 

"I would walk from my parking lot to my apartment and I’m resting six times because of shortness of breath," said Victor.

 A nurse would discover Victor had a heart problem. 

"She said I had irregular beating and an enlarged heart," he said.

Victor would leave his job to stay home to care for his children.  Rosa would work abroad as a nanny and send money home to support the family.

"You have to stand firm that you are now a bread winner for them," said Rosa.

Eventually, Rosa began living and working in Ottawa.  The family employing and befriending her would help bring Victor and the children to live in the capital; the Jameros reuniting after eleven long years.

"When I left, my second child is only one year old.  When we finally united here in Canada, she was 12. It’s very hard," said Rosa.

The hardships were far from over.  Once settled in Ottawa, Victor would see doctors about his heart issue.  His condition was much more serious than initially diagnosed.

Victor Jamero at home following his life-saving mitral valve surgery at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. (Photo courtesy the Jamero family)

"They found I had a blood clot.  A big blood clot," he said.

"It was a massive clot," said Dr. Thierry Mesana, President and CEO of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute.

"It was huge.  Like the size of an apple," Mesana said.

"And it was hiding in his heart," said Rosa.

Doctors discovered Victor was living with a rare and deadly heart condition. Many were amazed that he survived the 18-hour flight from the Philippines to Ottawa.

“I have to say, I think he was extremely lucky to come here alive," Mesana said.

"When I heard that, I’m like 'wow,'" said Rosa.

"I can’t believe that you’re still here.  It’s a miracle," she said.

Victor’s condition was rheumatic mitral stenosis. It was likely caused by an untreated case of rheumatic fever when Victor was young.  Ongoing inflammation resulted in serious complications and damage.

"The valve has healed in a very fibrotic process due to the inflammation and doesn’t work well," said Dr. Mesana.

Fortunately, for Victor, and thousands of other patients, Dr. Mesana is world-renowned for his experience in repairing damaged mitral valves.  

He removed Victor’s clot and repaired the valve, giving Victor and his family a future together.

"I really believe that the valve repair is one of the operations that can actually fix the heart forever," said Mesana.

For the Ottawa Heart Institute’s gift of life, Rosa and Victor Jamero are forever grateful.

"Here it is. A second chance. The second life that we are praying for," said Rosa.

"There are so many lives that they save.  And so many lives that they change," said Victor.

Victor and Rosa(middle) with their two children, son-in-law, and two grandchildren. (Joel Haslam/CTV News Ottawa)

Dr. Mesana believes groundbreaking research is key to the UOHI’s success in treating patients. Victor’s exceptional case provided an invaluable learning opportunity for medical students studying under Dr. Mesana.

"The research of today is the treatment of tomorrow," he said.

This March marks the 10th anniversary of Victor’s life-saving surgery at the UOHI.

"It’s a big year," he said with a smile.

And Dr. Mesana believes Victor will have many more years to celebrate.

“I think Victor will live longer than me,” he laughed.

February is Heart Month.  To support the UOHI, please give at Top Stories

Stay Connected