Surviving a Massive Heart Attack Against All Odds
My name is Donna Fielding and I live in McDonough, Ga. I was 37 years old and a mother of two girls when I had the experience I am about to tell you.
On Oct. 29, 2007, my father passed away. After greeting more than 1,300 people in two days, I had an episode at the funeral home that required the help of an Emergency Medical Team. They said I had a right ventricle enlargement and it could have been from not drinking or eating much, as well as stress from the death of my father. They encouraged me to go to the ER that night, but I would not leave my father’s side.
The morning of the funeral, I got an Echocardiogram. The cardiac ECHO appeared normal and, again, the symptoms seemed to be caused by stress. You have to understand; I worked out at the gym three times a week, I played tennis three-to four-times a week. I don’t smoke, nor was I overweight. I have never had high blood pressure or high cholesterol. If I did drink, it was red wine and never more than one glass.
On November 3, I had a massive heart attack and was rushed to WellStar Kennestone Hospital
in Marietta, Ga., where a surgical team was waiting for me.
I heard everything around me and was very alert. I heard them say “the angioplasty didn’t work” and I remember seeing a nurse, whom I later found out was named Charita. I told her, “Please help me. I have two children to raise at home.”
My heart surgeon, Dr. William Cooper, was not scheduled to be there that night, because he was being deployed to military active duty the next day. But, for some reason, he chose to be on call.
My situation was life-threatening and required emergency open heart surgery. The Cardiologist, Dr. Dennis Incorvati, told my husband Kevin that there were no guarantees. My procedure was touch-and-go throughout. It was determined I had a dissection of the main artery, which, in turn, caused a blood clot and a 100 percent blockage.
After about an hour or so into the surgery, things did not progress very well. Dr. Lee came to ask Kevin if he wanted them to try and attempt bypasses, and he told them, “Of course,” and if that didn’t work, he would accept the outcome. Dr. Lee said they would try, but they had no guarantees.
In a couple of more hours, Charita came back to tell him that the surgery was finished and that Dr. Cooper would come out and explain my condition.
When Dr. Cooper arrived, he told my family the surgery was finished and, for the moment, I was alive. I had a portion of my right ventricle damaged and the left ventricle was 100 percent dead. Dr. Cooper indicated that there were no promises, but I did have enough of my right ventricle to sustain life.
What did this mean? It meant that if I lived under these conditions, I may be able to lie in a bed and go to the bathroom on my own, but nothing else.
But to everyone’s surprise, the first EKG after the surgery revealed that 50 percent of my heart was actually working. Unbelievably, my right ventricle also showed signs of repair. You can only imagine everyone’s elation with such good news. I would soon be going home with hope of a normal life!
I went home that same month. On Friday after Thanksgiving, I had to return to the hospital and while I was there, another EKG showed I had 75 percent of my left ventricle back. I was able to be home for Christmas and to enjoy my children’s birthdays.
I am so grateful to be alive! My being here doesn’t really seem to be the miracle; I think the miracle is my being here to witness the exciting things that have happened around me as a result of this experience!