For Keith Currah, the last ten years have been difficult, with mealtimes becoming painful and embarrassing.

In his late thirties Keith began experiencing symptoms of choking every time he tried to eat or drink. He soon stopped going out to restaurants, strategically ate his lunch separate from his colleagues, and largely avoided socializing.  At family get-togethers, he sat close to the washroom so he could get away quickly and hide his condition.  In the last three years, he’s had to drink litres of carbonated water to keep down any food at all, and any joy he found in food completely disappeared.

The problem was achalasia. The sphincter muscle separating his esophagus and stomach had contracted shut and could no longer open.  Food couldn’t pass into his stomach and the resulting choking, regurgitation, heartburn, and pain not only affected his life during the day, it also meant he had to sleep in an elevated position at night.

“It was horrible,” says Keith. “Not a condition I would wish on anyone.”

Thankfully, Dr. Wen of Surrey Memorial Hospital was able give Keith the joy of eating again after surgery using the new Per Oral Endoscopic Myotomy (POEM) equipment. This specific purchase was funded by Surrey Hospital Foundation donors, the Gulshan & Pyarali G. Nanji Family Foundation.

Surrey Memorial Hospital the only hospital in BC to offer this revolutionary treatment.

Keith was the fourth person to receive specialized surgery with the POEM. In just two hours, Dr. Wen was able to cut the muscles around the sphincter to keep it open.  With the new equipment, the procedure is faster and less invasive than ever before.

Keith’s recovery has been swift. He was ecstatic to eat soft foods two days after surgery with no problems.  His son even took him out for a strawberry milkshake on the day of his discharge, and the shake stayed down!  Now, instead of feeling hungry all the time, Keith is able to eat and enjoy food again.  He and his wife celebrated their wedding anniversary with filet mignon, something he couldn’t do for far too many years.

Today, Keith wants hospital supporters to know just how thankful he is. His surgery has allowed him to live the life he wants, without pain and anxiety at every meal.

POEM is already changing lives, thanks to the generosity of our supporters.