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Queensland woman Samantha Wade always feared that the multiple heart defects she was born with meant she would never become a mum.
But thanks to the extraordinary care of a Mater cardiac specialist and his colleagues she now has a beautiful baby daughter – and a heart bursting with love.
It was after her cardiac problems led to her losing her first baby at 25 weeks that Mrs Wade, now 29, began a desperate search for a specialist who could help her defy the odds and safely give birth.
She reached out to Mater cardiologist Dr Mugur Nicolae, who developed a plan with obstetric and maternal fetal medicine specialists at Mater Mothers’ Hospital to support her through a ‘very high risk’ second pregnancy.
And 13 months ago her determination, and her doctors’ expertise, led to the moment she had longed for – when she gave birth to baby girl Ziva at Mater Mothers’.
“I never gave up my dream of becoming a mum. I always knew if I didn’t try again, I would regret it,” Mrs Wade said.
“My husband Blake and I were told by doctors that having a baby would be difficult – but Dr Nicolae helped bring my miracle baby into the world.
“Every time I hold my baby girl in my arms I thank Ziva’s brother, my family and friends, and my medical team for their hard work and dedication.”
Mrs Wade, of Logan, was born with Transposition of the Great Arteries, a serious and rare heart problem in which the two main arteries leaving the heart are reversed.
She was also diagnosed with Pulmonary Atresia, which causes the valve that controls blood flow from the heart to the lungs to not form, as well as Ventricular Septal Defect (VSP), a birth defect of the heart in which there is a hole in the wall that separates the two lower chambers of the heart.
At a young age Mrs Wade underwent a Fontan procedure, an operation for people born with one working heart ventricle. Following the surgery, all oxygen-poor blood in Mrs Wade’s body was diverted to the pulmonary artery instead of through her heart chambers.
Mrs Wade, a paediatric nurse, has undergone four heart surgeries including major open-heart surgery to correct multiple heart defects. She still has VSD as the hole is too big to close.
Dr Nicolae said that after Fontan surgery, arrhythmias and heart failure are the most frequent cardiac complications among women during pregnancy – and that miscarriages are common among these patients.
Dr Nicolae said Mrs Wade’s complex medical history was extremely unusual and a successful pregnancy in a Fontan patient was rare.
“I think world-wide there would be only a few hundred Fontan women with a successful pregnancy,” he said.
“To get a patient through pregnancy after a Fontan procedure is quite rare. The expertise of the team was invaluable.”
The specialist medical team at Mater included: obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Leanne Chapman, who helped ease Mrs Wade’s anxiety by increasing her check-ups and bedside scans; Maternal Fetal Medicine’s Dr Glenn Gardener, who carried out fortnightly pregnancy scans and imaging; anaesthetists Dr Sarah Maguire and Dr Michael Toon, and obstetric medicine specialist Dr Jo Laurie.
Mrs Wade said she hopes her story shows other women with congenital heart disease that “strength, resilience, courage and love after loss can result in amazing things with the right help and support”.
“I never gave up and through stubbornness and determination I have achieved the most amazing thing in the world,” Mrs Wade said.
“I have an amazing gift that I honestly thought I would never have.
“I will be forever grateful for Ziva.”
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