Ottawa Coun. Stephen Blais is in a medically induced coma in the intensive care unit of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute after suffering a heart attack at an east Ottawa gym, CBC News has learned.
Blais's sister, Meagan Blais, told CBC News her brother was in the middle of his daily workout Monday morning at a Goodlife Fitness in Place d'Orleans.
The councillor started working out a couple of months ago to get in better shape, she said. He collapsed during the workout and staff at the gym administered CPR until paramedics arrived, she added.
Stephen Blais was first taken to the Montfort Hospital, then transferred to the heart institute.
He is currently in the intensive care unit and his wife is with him at hospital. The councillor, who has one young son, will be turning 33 years old this year.
Outpouring of support from local groups, constituents, friend says
His good friend, John Shea, said he helped the family coordinate an outpouring of support Monday from local groups and constituents.
He said he was going to visit Blais Tuesday.
"There's sort of a roller coaster of emotions but you have to be strong," Shea said.
"As soon as you get the information, that's when you go into crisis management, I suppose, and you're just there for his family. You want to be there for his family to make sure they have everything that they need."
Shea, a public school board trustee, first met Blais in 2006 when the current councillor was a Catholic school board trustee in the east end.
Shea then moved to work in Blais's constituency office when he became councillor in October 2010 to help him launch his tenure.
Blais's family also released this statement late Monday through the city:
"His wife, Marta and family would like to express their sincere gratitude to Ottawa firefighters, paramedics and the staff at GoodLife Fitness at Place d’Orléans. The family is also thankful for the care that Stephen has received at the Montfort and Ottawa Heart Institute," the statement read.
"Stephen and his family would also like to thank all the well-wishers for their support and kind words during this time and that he is looking forward to returning to work as soon as possible."
Medically induced coma not 'dire,' doctor says
Blais is expected to be taken out of the coma over the next couple days, CBC News has learned.
One doctor from the heart institute told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning it is normal procedure after a cardiac arrest to use a medically induced coma to help in the recovery process.
"It's quite routine. Really all it refers to is the use of deep anaesthetic agents, deep sedative agents, to keep metabolism slow and keep someone asleep until their body recovers," said Michael Gollob, who works in the Inherited Arrhythmia Clinic and Arrhythmia Research Laboratory at the heart institute.
"This is not dire."