Amarillo Mother Survives Massive Heart Attack Related to Pregnancy

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A young Texas mother is opening up about how her pregnancy may have caused the heart attack that almost killed her.

A peek inside the Godinez home in Amarillo and you’ll see the hustle and bustle of a family of six. However chaotic, 30-year-old Clorinda Godinez wouldn’t have it any other way.

“The way everything played out the day the heart attack happened, it’s almost like I shouldn’t be here,” said Godinez.

Godinez had just brought her fourth child, Calisia, home from the hospital after a healthy pregnancy and healthy delivery.

However, eight days later, she said she experienced back pain so intense her family drove her back to the hospital where doctors confirmed she was having a heart attack.

“I didn’t go into the hospital knowing if I was going to pass away,” she said. “No mother wants to leave their children behind for someone else to raise. That’s my job.”

Godinez’s heart stopped beating and nurses had to perform CPR for two hours to keep her alive.

Once stable enough, Godinez was transported from Amarillo to Baylor Hospital in Fort Worth. There, doctors realized she needed a specialized surgery that could only be performed at Baylor Scott & White Heart and Vascular Hospital in Dallas.

“She is literally a miracle. There is no other way to put it,” said Dr. Amarinder Bindra, MD, who specialized in advanced heart failure and transplant cardiology.

He said Godinez suffered from peripartum cardiomyopathy, a form of heart failure that happens right before, or soon after, a woman gives birth.
It’s rare and doctors aren’t entirely sure why it affects some women.

“The incidence is very, very rare. One in a million cases is what we understand, but in her case she was the one in the millionth one” Bindra said.

Bindra performed open heart surgery to implant a device called Left Ventricular Assist Device, or LVAD, that does what a failing heart can’t by pumping blood to the rest of the body.  The HeartMate 3 LVAD is made by Abbott.  

After surgery, Godinez was in a medically induced coma for three weeks, but during that time, hospital staff arranged skin-to-skin bonding sessions for her and Calisia everyday until Godinez awoke.

“I felt like she didn’t forget me,” said Godinez.

The LVAD will stay in Godinez’s damaged heart for the rest of her life and she must always wear a backpack that carries the external part of the device.

However, Godinez said she feels blessed that she’s still here to raise her children.

LVADs have been used for about 10 years and are used in place of a heart transplant.

Common symptoms of peripartum cardiomyopathy are heart palpitations, swollen ankles and low blood pressure.

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