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Cathy Allen’s Story

Other Survivor, Age 44, Carthage, MS

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Cathy's Story

Our family’s journey began on April 15, 2010, the day my mother suddenly died of a heart attack.  While dealing with the sudden shock of losing Mom, we all congregated at my sister, Monica’s house in Pearl.  Monica was talking to one of her close friends and she suddenly felt a stabbing sensation shooting up her chest, she said “call 911, it’s the same thing that happened to Mom”! We called 911,  my brother was a EMT and my nephew, Monica’s son is a Dr, we first thought panic attack, her blood pressure had dropped to 60 over 30, they were able to monitor her until the ambulance arrived.  After getting her to St. Dominics, they finally ran a CT scan and discovered her aorta was leaking and was about to dissect.  This is happening  just a few hours after losing our mom.  Monica had to undergo a 10 hr emergency surgery, Dr. Robert E Lee was her surgeon, he was amazing.  She went into surgery with less than a 30% chance of surviving.  He was able to save her, she spent the next 6 weeks in the hospital, she then had to undergo a 2nd surgery in which Dr. Lee referred her to Dr. John Elefteriades at Yale New Haven Hospital.  She underwent a 2nd surgery to repair a leaking valve and rebuild her aorta.  She now has 2 grafts and a St. Judes mechanical valve and is doing great today!   In 2010 When all this was happening, I went and had my heart checked, everything was normal and fine at that time, however, in 2012, during heart month, my best friend made me go get my heart checked again, thank God I did!  The found some abnormalities with my EKG, went to my cardiologist to have an echocardiogram done and found that I had an enlarged aortic root.  I immediately contacted my sister’s surgeon up at Yale, he agreed to see me with Monica for her annual visit in the fall so he could run tests on me and do a gene study on us.  After running the tests, the aneurysm had gotten larger, and with our family history, he decided it was best to go ahead and schedule surgery  to repair my enlarged aortic root.  I was literally a ticking time bomb. I had open heart surgery April 10, 2013, they removed the aneurysm and put in a graft.   I am doing great today, but I thank God for my best friend, Shannon making me go get checked during heart month, had I not gone, I may not have known I had the aneurysm until it decided to rear it’s ugly head like my sister’s did.  I stress to everyone, if you have a family history of heart disease, aortic aneurysm, etc, it is so important to do a yearly check. What shows up normal one year can change the next.  It has been a tough 3 yrs, but hopefully it’s all behind us and the best is yet to come!

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Cathy is interested in giving and receiving support from other women with heart disease. Contact her if you'd like to give and receive support.


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