Mom-To-Be Miraculously Survives Rare Condition Often Causing Death

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Mom-To-Be Miraculously Survived Serious Illness And Surgery

Malisa shouldn’t be alive. While pregnant, the mom-to-be miraculously survived a serious heart condition — one that usually kills people instantly. But God kept her and her baby safe, even through an extremely risky surgery!

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Credit: UCLA Health

At 38-weeks pregnant, Malisa felt extremely uncomfortable. The first-time mom figured this was typical for pregnancy. But while she was at the movies with a friend, the discomfort grew to intense chest pains. Malisa found she couldn’t breathe, and quickly realized this must be something more serious.

A Terrifying Diagnosis

Malisa headed straight for the hospital. She breathed a sigh of relief when doctors confirmed her baby was doing just fine. But then they told her she had a heart murmur, suggesting she follow up with a cardiologist.

"I can't say I felt reassured," she said. "I was still having a hard time breathing. For three days, I wasn't able to lay down flat or sleep on my side."

It took Malisa a week to get in with the cardiologist. While it’s fairly common for pregnant women to develop heart murmurs, the doctor said Malisa’s was severe. He asked her to return the next morning for more tests, and found something terrifying. Malisa had experienced an aortic dissection.

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The fact that Malisa was still alive was a miracle.

"Usually when it happens you are basically dead," she said.

With an aortic dissection, the large blood vessel branching off the heart tears. Blood seeps between the tissue, causing the aorta to separate, which can in turn result in an aortic aneurysm. And Dr. Richard Shemin, the cardiac surgeon who treated Malisa, says fifty percent of people experiencing an aortic dissection die instantly.

"The miracle is she lasted long enough to have the diagnosis made," said Dr. Shemin. "She is really quite lucky."

But the mom-to-be miraculously survived the condition, making her way more than lucky — she’s blessed. The good Lord clearly had other plans for Malisa and her baby!

Immediate Action

Time was of the essence. So, doctors put Malisa on a helicopter and flew her to the hospital.

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Malisa and Josh before her health scare Credit: Josh and Malisa via Today

Meanwhile, her husband, Josh, got a terrifying call. Josh is a master sergeant with the U.S. Air Force, currently stationed in South Korea.

"My heart jumped in my throat," he said.

Josh hopped onto the first flight he could catch. All he could do was worry about his wife and unborn baby during the 10-hour flight from Seoul to Los Angeles.

While Josh was on his way, doctors were moving as quickly as possible to save both Malisa and her baby. This made things extremely tricky.

Doctors were simultaneously prepping Malisa for an emergency c-section, followed immediately by open-heart surgery. This meant the obstetrician had roughly a minute to get the baby out before the anesthesia affected him.

Overcoming Every Obstacle

Thankfully, little Connor came into the world completely healthy. That was a huge blessing all by itself.

"This is a very rare case," said Dr. Carla Janzen, who delivered baby Connor. "We were very very fortunate that the baby was doing so well."

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With Connor safe, it was time for Malisa’s open-heart surgery. The procedure took six hours, and Dr. Shemin successfully removed the aneurysm and ruptured aortic tissue and replaced her aortic valve with a mechanical one. When Josh arrived, Malisa was in recovery.

"He comes running into the room and gives me a kiss," Malisa said.

With the immediate danger over, Malisa and Josh turned their attention to their precious son. Together, they went to the nursery to meet their 6 pound, 3 ounce blessing!

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Credit: UCLA Health

Malisa’s recovery will take close to two months, but all is expected to go well. And she’s hoping her story will help keep other moms-to-be safe.

"Listen to your body," she said. "You need to make sure you're taking care of you."

Prayers for this beautiful family!

h/t: Today

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