Pregnancy and heart disease: Making the impossible possible

Doctors advised Marfan Syndrome patient to adopt

SusanDeming

Cardiologists advised Susan Deming to avoid pregnancy because of a weak heart muscle due to a connective tissue disorder known as Marfan Syndrome.

When she was just 17 years old, Susan Deming of Highland, Michigan was advised by cardiologists not to have children. Deming had a condition known as Marfan Syndrome, a connective tissue disorder that meant she would have cardiomyopathy, a weak heart muscle. The risks included her aorta not being able to handle extra blood flow during pregnancy which could lead to an aneurysm causing death.

“At the time, I was young, shocked and didn’t ask questions,” says Deming, who stopped going to the doctor after that appointment.

At age 25, Deming and her husband wanted to start a family. They went to a different cardiologist at another facility hoping for a better outcome. The physician provided a similar outlook and advised the couple to adopt. Deming and her husband eventually adopted two children.

However, at age 30 Deming became pregnant. Her happiness soon became fear as many hospitals would not take her case and some even advised her to terminate the pregnancy. Deming refused and wanted to seek other advice. She was referred to an area dedicated to high risk pregnancies at the University of Michigan Health System, which had experience with pregnancy and heart disease. Here she met with Claire Duvernoy, M.D., a cardiologist who monitored her pregnancy very closely.

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