Lesly Maytee Samayoa Solares was visiting a community clinic for severe vomiting, a symptom she thought was related to her pregnancy, when she learned something else was creating her discomfort.
An echocardiogram suggested the 28-year-old Florence, KY, resident was suffering from dilated cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle that weakens the heart’s ability to pump blood adequately throughout the body. Samayoa Solares was referred to UC Health’s Advanced Heart Failure Treatment Center in April 2015.
"They told me that my heart was sick,” says Samayoa Solares, a native of Guatemala, who spoke through an interpreter. "They said that it was too big and that it was not possible for me to have a baby with the heart like I had it at the moment.”
But a team of medical staff—physicians, cardiologists, high-risk obstetrics, anesthesiologists, nursing managers, and members of the cardiovascular intensive care unit—met to make the seemingly impossible a reality. They developed a plan of care to deliver Samayoa Solares’ baby. A few days prior to her planned admission, she came to the UC Medical Center Emergency Department with chest pain.
"She was admitted to the cardiovascular intensive care unit and four attending physicians met at her bedside,” says Stephanie Dunlap, DO, associate professor in UC’s College of Medicine and medical director of the UC Health Advanced Heart Failure Treatment Center. "The plan for care changed from normal vaginal delivery to cesarean section and was performed in UC Medical Center’s hybrid operating room.”
Samayoa Solares gave birth to a healthy baby boy, Julian, the weekend after Thanksgiving.
"She is remarkably asymptomatic,” says Dunlap, who with David Feldman, MD, are now Samayoa Solares’ primary physicians. "We have her on quite a bit of medical therapy and after the baby was delivered, she also had a defibrillator placed internally. This scenario is fairly unusual and that’s why she was transferred here because we have the advanced heart failure treatment program.”
Samayoa Solares’ pregnancy exacerbated her underlying heart condition.
"I had the symptoms a few years ago, but they were not as severe as this time last year,” says Samayoa Solares. "I had been seen by doctors in my country Guatemala, and they did not mention that my heart was sick. I was just told it was some tachycardia, and it was controlled with medications.
"Now, I feel like somebody who is normal, who can take care of herself and take care of her family,” says Samayoa Solares. "I do feel tired sometimes, but I work together with my husband, Jonathan, so we both take care of the family and he can go to work as well.”
Dunlap says physicians continue to monitor Samayoa Solares because she has an abnormal genetic type in her family that leads to premature deaths from heart disease. Samayoa Solares says her mother and sister have suffered from heart failure and both are now deceased as a result.
Dunlap urges pregnant mothers with underlying heart failure to come to UC Health early during their pregnancy for care. Samayoa Solares seconds that thought. She says her journey to hospital was part of "God’s call.”
"The people and the team in this hospital gave us love and care,” says Samayoa Solares. "They treated us like we were their own family, like they were my family, like what my husband would have done and like what my parents would have done for me.
"I would describe the staff here as angels. They really work out of love, more than just for a paycheck,” says Samayoa Solares, again speaking through an interpreter. "They are worried when I’m not doing well, and they are happy when I am. They do everything possible.”
She says UC Health’s rehabilitation and therapy providers also played an important role in helping her through the healing process.
"I was waiting for this pregnancy even before I knew I was pregnant and when I found out I was so happy and thankful to God that when they asked me if I wanted to stop the pregnancy and I chose not to I was thankful to the team because they supported me at every step of the journey,” says Samayoa Solares.
"I believe God puts you in the journey that he wants,” she says. "I don’t see the hospital as a medical center, but I see it as a second home. It’s not like I want to be here all the time, but I can come here when I need to.
"God works through the doctors and staff at the hospital to make miracles happen,” explains Samayoa Solares.