Mending a Broken Heart: Mom, Baby Survive Aortic Aneurysm (PKG)

Aortic aneurysms are common – doctors see about 3 million cases each year. What’s not so common, is a young pregnant woman having one. Meet a new mom whose heart is mended after an aortic aneurysm threatened her, and her unborn son’s life.

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CLEVELAND – Aortic aneurysms are common – doctors see about three million cases each year.

What’s not so common is a young pregnant woman having one.

Last winter, more than half-way through her second pregnancy, doctors at Cleveland Clinic discovered 29-year-old Casey Shannon’s aorta was bulging with a large balloon-like aneurysm, due to a rare genetic condition called mosaic turner syndrome.

“She was at risk for rupture,” said Gosta Pettersson, M.D., Ph.D., of Cleveland Clinic. “The plan was to try to put it along so far as we dared, and then to have the baby delivered with cesarean section. Also in that situation, ensure close monitoring of the blood pressure and only intervene on her heart if a catastrophe would happen.”

About a month later, Shannon’s aneurysm grew larger and her baby boy, Felix, was delivered early, by C-section, in a cardiac operating room.

“I wasn’t able to pick him up at all, at first,” said Shannon. “But, I was like, ‘I’m going to hold him!’ And they made sure that I got to; it was a day or two before I went in for open heart surgery.” 

One week after delivering Felix, Shannon’s aneurysm was repaired, but just a week later, she was back in the hospital with a life threatening blood clot in her lungs. 

“It was a lot, but you, kind of, just do it,” Shannon said. “You kind of go on autopilot and do what you have to do.”

Baby Felix spent seven weeks in the hospital, giving Shannon time to recover.

Now, one year later, Felix has celebrated his first birthday and Shannon is fully recovered.

“They kept telling me that it would have been catastrophic for both of us, had I not gotten caught and dealt with it the way that I did; so very thankful,” Shannon said. 

Felix is crawling and meeting milestones. Meanwhile, Shannon’s condition will be monitored into the future.

Dr. Pettersson encourages women with heart problems, who wish to start a family, to seek out an experienced medical team to care for them before becoming pregnant.

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