Three months before Kellie and Paula Tasto got married, Kellie learned that she had pulmonary hypertension (PH). She was critically ill with severe right heart failure, and she was devastated to learn that PH would affect their plans to start a family.

“I knew there was a greater risk of me or the baby not making it through a pregnancy,” Kellie recalls. “That just wasn’t a risk we were willing to take.”

Carrying a child places increased stress on the heart and lungs. In women without PH, blood volume increases about 50%. For women with PH, the change in blood volume can lead to right-heart failure in PH patients whose right hearts are already overworked from the increased pressure in their pulmonary arteries. Some medications prescribed to PH patients also can be harmful to a developing fetus.

Some women with PH pursue adoption after consulting their PH physicians about family planning. Some couples go through private agencies, like Kellie and Paul. Others, like Lindsay and Jason Howe of Peoria, Arizona, become foster parents before adopting.

Read about the Tasto and Howe families’ paths to adoption. Their stories originally appeared in the June 2020 issue of Pathlight, the Pulmonary Hypertension Association’s member magazine. Join or renew your PHA membership to receive Pathlight.