Megan Roberts was in her second day back to work at Cline Plumbing after seven weeks off with her newborn son, her third child. "I had chest pains," she recalls of the September Day back in 2015, "and my boss took me to the local ER." From there she was sent via ambulance to Aultman Hospital in Millersburg. "I had a heart catheterization done and my left artery had dissected. I was rushed to the OR and they did a double bypass."
The next day Roberts' family was told there was nothing more that could be done for her there, and she was to be life-flighted to University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland. Unbelievably, the flight's transmission went out, forcing an emergency landing in Akron. Staff on board had to hand-pump the IVs. An ambulance took Roberts to Akron General, and then another life flight finally got her to UH.
"The family was taken into a room for an update," recalls Robert's husband Tony. "Doctors told us that her heart was severely damaged." A procedure was planning as a temporary fix, but Roberts would need a heart transplant. She had multivessel spontaneous coronary dissections and cardiogenic shock. The family was told her condition, which is extremely rare, is likely caused by overly high estrogen levels during pregnancy and carries a high mortality rate.
"It came out of nowhere," Robert says. "I never had any issues like this before. I was told that any warning signs would have been similar to pregnancy: fatigue, shortness of breath. Sometimes there's chest pains, but I never had any of that."
Roberts underwent multiple cardiac surgeries to support her heart and keep her alive. In the space of just two weeks, she underwent seven major surgeries, including two open-heart procedures. She will ultimately need a heart transplant.
In the meantime, Roberts is trying to return her life to normal. "I feel good now," she says. "I've been out of the hospital about a month and a half. I am starting to get my energy back and starting to feel better. I have to continue physical therapy three times a week, and my strength is coming back fairly quickly. Tony has been taking care of the kids so I can get the sleep I need." Roberts' mother, Stacie McDowell, lives "about twenty seconds away" and has been integral to her daughter's recovery too.
"The doctors, nurses and perfusionists, they were all wonderful," says Roberts, citing especially the high-caliber care of her surgeon, Dr. Basar Sareyyupoglu and cardiologist, Dr. Chantal ElAmm, both of UH Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute.
Roberts knows she was lucky, all things considered. "The nurses joked that I was the luckiest unlucky person on the floor," she laughs, citing the helicopter mishap and blood clot. The family was told that less than 5 percent of patients would survive everything Megan went through those 2 weeks in September. "She's our walking miracle," echoes Megan's mom, "because they can't explain how she made it through all the experiences she did."