Memorial Helps Adult Congenital Heart Disease Patient Heather During High Risk Pregnancies

November 30, 2022

Heather, holding baby

Multiple teams of Memorial specialists care for Heather who has adult congenital heart disease — teams that have guided her through two high-risk pregnancies.

After valve replacement surgery at Memorial, Heather decided to start a family, and during pregnancy she started coughing up blood.

Mark Block, MD, chief, Thoracic Surgery, removed part of her lung. “She recovered, and that was the last I heard of her, at least so I thought,” he said.

During her second pregnancy, Heather began coughing up blood again. Dr. Block used a camera to examine her windpipe, and when the bleeding became unsafe, Memorial’s high-risk OB team immediately performed a cesarean section. Then, to avoid another lung surgery, she was placed on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO).

ECMO is like an artificial lung that oxygenates the blood and removes carbon dioxide, explained Lance Cohen, MD, medical director, Adult ECMO Program. “We supported her for a few days to allow her lungs to heal,” he said.

“They're an amazing team,” Heather said. “It was a great relief to know that they were looking out for me and for our family.”

Heather’s ACHD/ECMO High-Risk Pregnancy Story

Heather, patient testimonial
See how we helped Heather, who has an adult congenital heart defect, through both of her high-risk pregnancies.