Dog vaccine

AHA News: Overworked single mom collapsed at work and found herself with a new heart – Consumer Health News

THURSDAY, April 21, 2022 (American Heart Association News) — In her late 40s, Alicia Wilson had a busy schedule. She had a full-time job in contract administration, was the single mother of a busy high school student, and had decided to take on the challenge of going back to school for a master’s degree.

So when Alicia, who was overweight, felt out of breath after climbing the stairs, she hardly had time to think twice.

Then came the day at work when she was rushing to a meeting and fell, hitting her head. In the ER, doctors said she had a concussion. A few days later, she came home from her usual morning walk with her dog and thought she was going to pass out.

She didn’t, but she was scared enough not to work. When she thought the concussion was to blame, she saw her doctor just to be safe. He performed tests, including an electrocardiogram. The results looked bad for a 48-year-old woman, so he referred her to a cardiologist. She started wearing a monitor to record her heart’s electrical activity.

A week later, Alicia – who lives outside of Philadelphia – finished an assignment for school while her 17-year-old daughter, Shannon, packed for a trip. The heart monitor started beeping irregularly.

The hospital called and told Alicia to call an ambulance. She didn’t panic. It was a few days before Christmas and she figured she’d be home well in time to finish shopping for presents and shopping for her holiday dinner.

At the hospital, the doctors gave her medicine to stabilize her. Two days later, she received a pacemaker. When she woke up and went to the bathroom, she passed out. Doctors said the pacemaker was faulty. She chose to continue her treatment in another hospital.

Her new doctor looked at her symptoms – fainting, irregular heartbeat and shortness of breath – and thought she might have a rare condition called cardiac sarcoidosis. It is characterized by inflammation of heart tissue that can interfere with the normal functioning of the heart.

Alicia received a new pacemaker. She returned home on Christmas Eve and resumed her normal life. However, her heartbeat was still irregular. His doctor implanted a defibrillator to deliver an electric shock, if necessary, to stabilize his heart rate.

For two years, his devices had to be adjusted. The problem, however, was not the technology.

“It became very obvious that my heart was failing,” Alicia said. “They started having these conversations with me about heart transplantation.”

First, her doctor tried another, much less invasive procedure. It wasn’t successful. A transplant was his only option. She got so sick that a machine pumped her blood as she waited for a match.

Shannon, a high school student playing sports and working on college applications, wanted to quit her teams to be with her mother.

“No,” Alicia told him. “Your life must still go on.”

Shannon began to transition from track training to the hospital for a few hours. She slept in Alicia’s room on weekends.

After a month on the waiting list, Alicia learned she would be receiving a heart from a 19-year-old.

Before the transplant, the nurses sang “Happy Birthday.” Not because it was Alicia’s birthday but because she was getting a new birthday.

A few weeks later, Alicia returned home in time for Thanksgiving. Her next big goal was to be healthy enough to attend Shannon’s high school graduation in the spring.

Shannon helped out by driving Alicia to doctor’s appointments. “My mother had taken care of me, and now the roles were reversed,” Shannon said.

Shannon decorated her graduation cap with a gemstone heartbeat. Alicia beamed as her daughter graduated.

“It was an emotional day from start to finish,” Shannon said. “There were tears.”

Seven years later, Alicia feels “absolutely wonderful”.

“All of us who have been lucky enough to have a transplant know that we have received a gift,” she said.

She sits on a patient and family advocacy and organ donation board at the hospital where she had her transplant. When she shares her experience, she emphasizes the importance of taking care of yourself.

“Stop thinking you’re Superwoman and just ask for help,” Alicia said. “Realize that you are precious. You deserve to be put back at it. It’s also OK to say no.”

American Heart Association News covers heart and brain health. Any opinions expressed in this story do not reflect the official position of the American Heart Association. Copyright is owned or held by the American Heart Association, Inc., and all rights are reserved. If you have any questions or comments about this story, please email [email protected]

By Deborah Lynn Blumberg, American Heart Association News