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Patient story

Maria Del ValleMaria Del Valle

Hi, my name is Maria and I'm 24 yrs old. I was just diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension in August of 2007. But I know I had it for awhile and my pregnancy just made it worse. I don't mean this in a bad way because my son is my pride and joy and I thank GOD for him because doctors say they couldn't imagine what the pressures in my heart and lungs were and how I had him. So he is my miracle child.

You see I got pregnant in 2003 and I felt very tired and short of breath through my pregnancy but they told me it was because I was pregnant.

I didn't have any complications through out my pregnancy and through my delivery. After I had my child I still felt shortness of breath and tired. I knew something was not right. Couple of months later I had these weird attacks it felt like if my ribs were crushing every single organ in my body. By the time the ambulance would get to me or the ER would take me in I felt better , the pains would go away. They did all kinds of test but stated that they couldn't find anything. So that was that.

I remember one day in August of 2005 I was sorting out clothes and out of no where my heart stopped for a couple of seconds that felt like minutes. All I could think was, “is my heart going to keep beating?” Well it did. I than went to my gynecologist ( I didn't have a primary doctor since I really never got sick) and I told her that there was something wrong with me because I had shortness of breath, I was always tired and because my heart would stop beating for a couple of seconds. So she had blood work, EKG, echo done on me and stated that if something came back abnormal than she would send me to a cardiologist.

So things came back abnormal and I went to see this cardiologist in Munster, Indiana. He ended up running more tests like another EKG, and also a TEE (which is where they stick this tube down your throat to see your heart and see if there are any holes). They found out that my hemoglobin was very high, the right side of my heart was enlarged, I had irregular heart beat, and there were two leaking valves. When I met with the cardiologist so he could tell me what I had he basically told me that he couldn't put it together because I had a little bit of this and that and than he told me maybe you're imagining it. I was very mad and upset when he told me that. I knew there was something wrong. I didn't go back to see him and well I really didn't want to see another doctor because I didn't want to be told that they didn't know what was wrong even though I knew there was something wrong. I prayed that GOD would send me a doctor that would listen to me and find what’s wrong.

My family and I moved to San Antonio Texas last year (June of 2006). I still felt the same way. About May of 2007 I went to go see a primary doctor because I felt tired and shortness of breath. He stated that I was out of shape and to walk or jog. I'm here weighing at 125 lbs and standing at 5'2. So I was like okay so my husband, my 3 year old son and I started walking everyday about 3 miles. I'll tell you I was very short of breath during that but I would take my time and stop if I needed to. Three months passed and I didn't feel any different.

One day I started coughing up blood. We didn't think it was something major. So the next day I was still coughing up blood. I went to the ER and they did some blood work and a chest x-ray. The ER doctor stated it was bronchitis and that it would go away on its own. A week passed by and I was not better. I went back to the primary doctor that stated that I need to get in shape , and told him that he needed to hear me out. I was now coughing up blood and I still had shortness of breath and I still felt tired and I knew something was wrong. He refereed me to Dr. Homma, a pulmonary specialist. I took my medical records from 2 years ago and let him see them. I told him that I knew there was something wrong with me and that I needed to know because I had a 3 year old and I needed to be around for him. Just by looking at my test results he told me it sound like I had pulmonary hypertension. I never heard of that so I didn't know what it was. He explained it to me and stated that he would run some more test to confirm that's what it was and also find what the cause of it was. He did blood work and a breathing test. He sent me to see Dr. Ortiz (a cardiologist) who also believed that I had pulmonary hypertension. He did some more blood work and another echo. After the results came back from those test Dr. Ortiz stated that he needed to do an angiogram. When he told me that I was scared because I knew what that was and risks behind that. He explained it to me and told me that if he saw that there were any complications that he would stop right there and not continue because he was not going to let anything happen to me. I felt a little bit more at peace but I was still a bit scared.

He did a right and left catheterization and with nitric oxide challenge. I didn't respond to the nitric oxide. Dr. Ortiz was shocked to find that I had a large patent ductus arteriosus. Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) is an abnormal opening between two major blood vessels, the aorta and the pulmonary artery. This congenital heart defect often closes on its own after birth.In my case it never closed so this is the cause of my pulmonary hypertension. Dr. Ortiz sent me to see Dr. Zamora, a pediatric cardiologist. He went over all my test and did another echo. He stated that he could try and see if it would be safe to close the PDA. He would have to do a catheterization. This would be my second one done within a month in a half. So he did a right and retrograde left heart catheterization with test occlusion of patent ductus arteriosus. Unfortunately when they inflated the balloon that was supposed to temporally close the PDA I couldn't tolerate it. I started to coughing up blood non-stop. So this indicated that it was too late to close that PDA. I now knew that I was looking at a lung and possibly a heart transplant. I went to meet with Dr. Angel,a lung transplant doctor. Dr. Angel and Dr. Homma both thought it would be best to hold off on the lung transplant and try to see how I would do with medication. I'm currently taking Revatio, Aspirin(to help thin my blood a bit) and next week I will be taking Letairis. I also have to do a sleep test to see if I loose oxygen at night.

I know I will keep praying and doing what ever it takes for me to be around for my son. I can not image not being here. Yes, I will admit that sometimes I've wished it was a dream and I would wake up from it but I know that won't happen. I know that only GOD can move mountains and that he can make miracles happen. So my faith is strong!!

 

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