Report to our community 2021-22

Rising phoenix: The story of Virginia Henderson

Virginia HendersonOttawa South native Virginia Henderson always had a passion for music. Growing up, she had perfect pitch, played the French horn, and loved all things music.

In November 2019, Virginia's house caught on fire while she was sleeping. Rescued by firefighters, she was in critical condition and suffered many life-threatening injuries.

Virginia went into cardiac arrest from the smoke inhalation, suffered a brain injury, had carbon monoxide and cyanide poisoning, and had severe burns on her shoulder. Any kind of recovery was uncertain.

Unable to breathe, speak, eat or walk on her own, Virginia spent several months at the Ottawa Hospital and was later admitted to Bruyère's Saint-Vincent Hospital for complex medical care. She was on a ventilator for two years, but then, against all odds, she slowly became strong enough to begin a rehabilitation program in 2021, with her mother Margery by her side.

Virginia was weaned off the ventilator and learned to breathe on her own again. She then worked tirelessly with our speech-language pathologists to regain her ability to speak and worked with our physiotherapists to grow stronger and start walking again.

Virginia's mother Margery said, "No one expected her to make such an incredible recovery after her challenging journey. The goal was for Virginia to go to a long-term care home, but she was doing so well that we decided on a retirement residence instead!"

During Virginia's recovery, she and Margery grew closer. Now at a retirement home, Virginia finds joy in outings with her family, spending time at the lake, watching the birds at the feeder outside her door, and, and watching the Food Network with her mother.

Virginia and Margery