“My whole life changed overnight. You have a baby. You have heart failure. Now, you have to have a heart transplant," says Kristy Kress, 31, from Toledo, Ohio.
Kristy was seven months into her first pregnancy, when she learned she had peripartum cardiomyopathy and required a heart transplant in order to save her life.
Back in Toledo, doctors induced labor early and her son, Hunter, was born successfully.
However, after several weeks of waiting for a transplant, Kristy was informed by Cleveland Clinic heart doctors that she was out time and they needed to install a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) immediately or she would die.
"The surgeons here are fantastic, the nurses, the doctors are fantastic. They actually took that extra step to want to get to know their patients."
"It had only been 6 or 7 weeks since I had Hunter. I really didn't get to see him the first 4 months of his life. They tried to bring him up as much as possible, but when I was really bad I was in the ICU... The surgeons here are fantastic, the nurses, the doctors are fantastic. They actually took that extra step to want to get to know their patients. Everyone always asks, 'How's your son?,' " says Kristy.
Then in 2009, seven months after the birth of Hunter and only two weeks after Mother's Day, Kristy had a successful heart transplant.
Now more than a year later, she is running two miles a day, working full-time and savoring every moment with her son.
"My donor, how do you thank someone for that. They gave me the extra chance to raise my son... It's scary, it is, but it's worth it. I wouldn't change it for anything," Kristy says.
Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute (Miller Family)