Pam Coleman, New Jersey


I was born with a congenital heart valve defect which was detected at birth. I had three open heart surgeries by the time I was 30. My first surgery was at age 7 to repair my valve. Unfortunately that was not successful and at age 13 my valve was replaced. Due to the blood thinning medication that I am on I was told that I would not be able to have children. As I got older my desire to have a child grew stronger. With my cardiologists’ approval, I was pregnant at age 30.

My experience being pregnant was definitely bitter sweet. Just eight weeks into my pregnancy I began to hemorrhage and was put on total bed rest for the remainder of my pregnancy. I was in and out of the hospital the entire time for pre-term labor, dehydration, and continued hemorrhaging. I had dreamt of this time for so long and now I had so many obstacles to overcome.

Then, at 33 weeks into my pregnancy, my symptoms began to change. I had problems breathing and laying down flat and sudden weight gain. I thought these were pregnancy symptoms but I could not have been more wrong.

When I went for my scheduled doctor’s appointment on December 26 I was told I was in heart failure. A blood clot formed on my aortic valve and prevented it from opening and closing. Doctors feared the clot would break off, travel to my brain, I would have a stroke and die instantly. Time was not on our side. After agonizing hours the medical team decided to deliver my baby via c-section and 24 hours later I would have open heart surgery to replace my mangled valve for the second time, thus my third surgery.

My son was born on December 28 and weighed in at 3 lbs 8 oz. I was told that I died several times and was brought back. I guess my determination to see my son outweighed how sick I truly was. After 10 days I was finally able to see my son for the first time.

I will always live with heart disease. There is no cure for me, however, with the help of the American Heart Association we can educate woman on how to prevent it. I am a Survivor Ambassador with the American Heart Association and together we can fight heart disease.

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