Saving a new mother's heart

May 11, 2008 6:58:59 AM PDT
Moms usually help their kids get through the rough times. But a new baby helped his mom make it through a very scary time.

5 months after Lindy Jones gave birth to her son, Matthew, she got sick with what at first seemed like pneumonia.

But tests revealed something much worse.

Lindy recalls, "Well, the doctor grabbed my mama's arm, and said 'I wouldn't leave just yet. She's having a massive heart attack.' "

A blood clot formed in a major artery of Lindy's heart - a rare complication of childbirth,

Doctors quickly implanted a balloon pump through her leg to her heart... to keep Lindy alive, but that caused more problems.

Dr. Salpy Pamboukian, of the University of Alabama-Birmingham says, "Her circulation was so poor that she wasn't really getting enough blood flow to her legs."

Lindy says, "They, um, that's when they took my leg."

When Lindy woke up, she discovered doctors had to amputate her right leg below the knee.

Later, that heart pump was replaced with a device called a left ventricular assist device, or L-VAD.

It keeps her heart going while she waits for a transplant.

Dr. Pampoukian says, "We never know when a donor organ is going to be available, so if somebody's so ill that we don't think they're going to make it to the heart transplant, we use the LVAD to bridge them to that, and we call that bridge to transplantation."

Matthew was almost a year old by the time an anxious Lindy finally got home from the hospital.

"He's absolutely wonderful. I can't, I don't know how I'd do it if he was anything else, " says Lindy.

Lindy Jones is still waiting for a heart, but the L-VAD is helping her survive until one becomes available. She looks forward to celebrating many more Mother's Days to come.