Meet Malcolm Gwilliam

“World Class” Care for a Young Hockey Champ

Malcolm Gwilliam grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia, with the dream of playing pro hockey. His talent earned him a scholarship to play for Michigan Tech, where he was the Huskies captain. Malcolm’s dream was set in motion.

It was during a Huskies/Gophers game in Mariucci Arena at the University of Minnesota his senior year, with his parents and agent in the stands, that Malcolm’s powerhouse energy suddenly left him. As he was about to skate onto the ice for one of the season’s last games, he couldn’t move. “I felt strange, like I was floating, with this pins and needles sensation. My legs felt like they weighed a thousand pounds,” he recalls.

Malcolm suffered a stroke that paralyzed the left side of his body.

Malcolm suffered a stroke that paralyzed the left side of his body. Critical medication, TPA, was needed within two hours to prevent permanent damage. Fortunately, UMMC was steps away. “My parents were there, and they approved the drug,” Malcolm said. His symptoms cleared up quickly, but he remained in the hospital for MRIs and more meds. Physical therapy came next, and then the echocardiograph’s news: a malformed heart valve.

His leaky heart valve had allowed a blood clot pass to the brain. “My care team did this procedure called a ‘PFO closure’ to fix it. There were times I was scared and confused, but they were great—I got world-class care,” he says.

"My doctor said my recovery time was the fastest he’d seen."

The ice didn’t have to wait long. Just seven weeks after his stroke, he was back at the University for tests that cleared him for a gradual return to skating and weightlifting. Less than five months after the stroke, he was allowed some team practice time. “Given my procedure and the activity level they said I could handle, my doctor said my recovery time was the fastest he’d seen,” Malcolm says proudly.

Eleven months after the stroke, Malcolm played his first game back with the Huskies. He scored a goal during his first shift on the ice. He went on to play professionally like he’d dreamed of, and has his sights now set on moving from the minor leagues to the NHL. He and his doctor, Ganesh Raveendran, M.D., still make time for phone chats.

“My care team was by my side the whole time, through the recovery process up to me being whole again. I credit Dr. Raveendran for where I am today,” Malcolm says.