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Former coach Jacques Demers shares story of nearly fatal operation error

Aug 3, 2010, 10:55 PM EDT

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jacquesdemers.jpgIf you’ve not kept up with your former NHL coaches, one notable coach from the past (now a member of parliament), Jacques Demers, has been battling with his health recently. In early July, he was taken into an Ottawa-area hospital for hernia surgery. What happened after that is a gruesome tale the former Canadiens/Red Wings/Blues/Lightning head coach is one he’s thankful he gets to live and tell about it because after undergoing surgery, things turned for the worse quickly.

(Please take note, the story might make you a bit queasy.)

Demers said he continued to feel stomach pain and, six days later, he noticed dark-coloured stains on his hospital gown. The doctor took one glimpse and immediately realized what had happened.

“It was all brown — all dirty (on the gown). . . The doctor reacted very quickly. He said, ‘You need to go downstairs immediately for another operation,’ ” Demers said.

“Accidentally, through human error, the doctor apparently cut a piece of plumbing — of the intestine — and it apparently spread through my body.”

With toxins flooding his body, Demers was forced to undergo a second operation to save his life.

Calls went out from the hospital to his wife, brother, and the Montreal Canadiens’ team doctor, urging them to remain near the phone.

Demers says they were told, “Jacques is between life and death.”

Demers is now on a three-month recovery break and could miss the early days of the Senate’s fall session.

Thankfully, all is well for Demers, a man who is a legend in Montreal for being the coach who last brought the Canadiens a Stanley Cup victory in 1993, a success that’s likely helped him in reaching his latest position in Canadian parliament in Ottawa. That said, I doubt I’ll be sleeping well after reading this hospital horror story. These are the sorts of stories that, while infrequent, terrify me at the most innate level.

 

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