AUSTIN (KXAN) — This weekend, many celebrated Mother’s Day.
One local mother was thankful to enjoy the holiday with her two children after surviving a severe heart condition.
Just ten weeks after childbirth, Kuan-hsien ‘Milly’ Lee started feeling intense pressure in her chest and having difficulty breathing.
“I would just find it really hard to go back to sleep,” she said. “When I tried to lie down, I would have a lot of pressure in my chest, where it felt hard to breathe.”
A local cardiologist diagnosed her with mitral valve prolapse — a heart condition that affects the valve between the left heart chamber — which can lead to heart failure if left untreated.
“We were very surprised,” Lee said. “It’s a diagnosis that you typically you hear about happening with older people.”
The 36-year-old was also diagnosed with severe mitral regurgitation — a leaky valve that was enlarging her heart and accumulating fluid within her lungs.
Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgeons, or CTVS, board-certified cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Faraz Kerendi described her condition.
“That’s when the mitral valve leaks,” he said. “That blood can back up onto the lungs and make it difficult for a person to breathe.”
This life-saving doctor’s appointment led to Lee having surgery.
The Round Rock resident was operated on by Dr. Kerendi, who described his procedure — a minimally invasive cardiac surgery — to be much less traumatic than traditional open-heart surgery.
“With this minimally invasive technique, we go through a small two-inch incision in between the ribs,” he explained. “Sometimes with the aid of a camera, which allows us to do the valve surgeries through a much less invasive approach.”
Just two weeks after surgery, Lee was able to bounce back.
She quickly returned to her everyday duties as a mother of two young kids while working full-time as a local realtor.
“I was able to pick up my baby again and start driving,” Lee said. “I was able to get off my pain medications about a week out of surgery.”
Originally believing her heart pain to be postpartum symptoms, Lee learned a valuable lesson.
“Listen to your body and take yourself seriously,” she concluded. “If you feel like something’s wrong, it probably is.”
To check on your heart health, you can schedule an appointment with Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgeons.