At home, with friends and family at his side, Dr. James Swan died on June 4, 2021 ending his courageous battle with brain cancer.
In February 2020 Jim arranged a CT scan for himself after telling friends he thought he had the same thing that his identical twin George had died from less than a year before. Jim came to that conclusion as he found he was forgetting details. Less than a week later a biopsy was done to confirm the diagnosis of a glioblastoma form of brain cancer.
Like his brother, he approached his treatments with an optimism that he could be a survivor. He continued caring for his ailing wife with the help of personal support workers. Through this he demonstrated grace, dignity and gratitude for their support.
Jim graduated from medicine at Queen’s University. He did his cardiology residency at the University of Toronto and a fellowship in cardiac ultrasound at Emory University in Atlanta. On his return to Canada in 1977, he was among the first to introduce 2-D echocardiography to practice. For the next forty years he devoted himself to clinical cardiology and advancing the specialty. He was a proud member of the Rouge Valley Health System and founding member of a robust, all service cardiology group.
Dr. Swan was a founding member of the world recognized Cardiac Care Network of Ontario. He was instrumental in setting up one of the first catheterization labs and a stand-alone angioplasty suite in the community. He was chair of the Section of Cardiology in the Ontario Medical Association and president of the Ontario Association of Cardiologists.
As digital technologies advanced, Jim was a leader in adapting to the needs of cardiac echo labs. Programs he developed were utilized by many institutions around the world and locally in Scarborough, Ajax and Collingwood.
Three activities Jim enjoyed the most and never let anyone forget were hockey, spending time at his cottage in Shanty Bay and travelling with his companion, his dog Hennessy. While Jim and George were stalwarts on the Upper Canada College hockey team, it was George who went on to win a national championship with Cornell as a goalie. Jim satisfied his passion for hockey by being the doctor for the NHL old timers. At his oasis in Shanty Bay, there were family gatherings, weddings as well as a serenity that seemed to soothe. Close by was his horse farm of which Jim was particularly proud. He and Hennessy would walk the property on nature walks or inspect the construction of the new barn.
Over the last few years Jim got involved with the Global Surgery group at the University of Toronto. Together with the Bethune Medical Development Association he travelled to China three times where he shone as a teacher of echocardiography. He set up programs for young Chinese cardiologists and sponsored six of them to join in his lab in Toronto for further instruction. He was given the Honorary Chair of Cardiology from several institutions in China. His other trips included Jamaica and Nunavut. He viewed these missions as some of the most meaningful experiences in his career as a physician. Both Jim and his brother George were big supporters of these humanitarian efforts, so much so that Jim was instrumental in creating The George and James Swan Chair in Global Surgery at Temerty Medicine, University of Toronto.
Above all Dr. Jim Swan was a gentle soul who was kind, generous and always willing to help anyone in need. As a friend, if you went to Jim with a problem he almost immediately looked upon it as his problem as well. He had an ability to comfort that left those he was in contact with, either patients or friends, feeling more secure in knowing he was there.
Predeceased by his mother, Isobel Swan (1987), his father Dr. Henry Swan (1999) and his identical twin George (2019), Jim is survived by his wife Carolyn, sons Matt McQuillen (Rachel), Marc McQuillen (Caroline), grandchildren David and Sarah, his sister-in-law Louise and loving nieces Dr. Kathryn (Will), Jennifer (Jorge) and Erica (James).
A funeral service will be held when COVID-19 restrictions permit. A Celebration of Life is planned for September.
Flowers graciously declined. In recognition of Dr. Swan’s passionate commitment to global surgery, and if so desired, donations may be directed to The George and James Swan Chair in Global Surgery. You may make a gift online (engage.utoronto.ca/swanchair) or by contacting Cassandra Piroutz at (647) 327-7802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.