+ ++ A Heart Two Sizes Too Big - Keeping one young Latina alive through technology | Latina Lista
Local Stories

A Heart Two Sizes Too Big – Keeping one young Latina alive through technology

A Heart Two Sizes Too Big – Keeping one young Latina alive through technology

By Amy Robinson
La Prensa San Antonio

SAN ANTONIO — Amber Munoz, 15, was diagnosed with non-ischemic cardiomyopathy last January. Her heart was too big and couldn't pump the blood through her body. After a grueling six hour procedure on April 4th, Amber received a heart transplant that saved her life. The procedure was performed by Jay Pal, M.D., Ph.D., and John Calhoun, M.D., of U.T. Medicine San Antonio. Amber’s case was one of the first collaborative efforts between the Texas Transplant Physician Group of Michael Kwan, M.D., and Chandra Kunavarapu, M.D., with UT Medicine surgeons.

But perhaps most incredible about this collaborative case is the technology used to keep Amnber alive from for the 48 days from January until April, when her wait for a new heart was finally over.

Doctors used the HeartMate®left-ventricular assist device to keep her alive, a technique never before used successfully in one so young. Not only did Amber survive connected to a cable, monitor and pump -- she may be the youngest patient to have ever been kept alive in this manner.

“We were concerned about children being able to manage these things, especially the emotional component of having a battery connected to the body,” Pal said. “But she did a fabulous job.”

Amber’s positive attitude was impressive for a 15-year-old girl.

Kwan described her character as upbeat and admirable and describer her as having a good outlook on life. The young patient, who was dealing with her own fear and pain, even helped others with heart disorders by starting a Facebook support group.

“She’s inspiring others whom she’s never even met that they can do it,” Kwan added.

Unfortunately, not all enlarged hearts are as quickly detected as Amber’s was. Complications of an enlarged heart include shortness of breath and weight gain and often the disorder is difficult to diagnose because the symptoms can resemble asthma, bronchitis or simply being out of shape.

Cardiomyopathy has a spectrum of causesthat can include blocked arteries, birth defect or even viruses.

While cases like Amber’s are unusual, Kwan wants people to know it is important to seek a specialist if you are suffering from heart problems. About 80 percent of people with heart disorders can be treated with just medication, but San Antonio is at the forefront of the field with some of the best outcomes in the state for thos who require surgery.

After avoiding sudden death, Amber…

Finish reading A Heart Two Sizes Too Big - Keeping one young Latina alive through technology

Click to add a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Local Stories

More in Local Stories

2_460_34a4a53b-561f-4b6a-a956-8ae7fda84a4b

SF Mission Organizers Debut Film on Alex Nieto Case

Latina ListaJanuary 5, 2016
2_453_832f7f3a-cc83-4873-abba-2825da162c90

In one West Valley community, ever-shifting demographics are changing the face of Phoenix

Latina ListaDecember 21, 2015
2_447_a4c84946-4d35-45e6-970f-2d6efb869afe

Rio Grande Valley teachers urged not to turn away students who want to join robotics teams

Latina ListaDecember 17, 2015
2_443_7727a68e-6830-450b-a2a5-0ba1ade69039

U.S. speech and debate teams dig deep for material to overcome literary void of Latino voices

Latina ListaDecember 16, 2015
2_438_1ddd421b-615c-497f-88c6-d9dd33a6cfa5

In All Cases, Oklahoma Police Find No Proof of Racial Profiling

Latina ListaDecember 15, 2015
2_433_d2b59a30-e7e7-49b8-86bc-416abab83622

Bridging a border to unite my transnational family

Latina ListaDecember 10, 2015
2_428_be76ed14-acf4-46ac-9ba8-60de992edd5c

San Diego’s Balboa Park Hosts 32 International Cottages, but Mexico is not one of them

Latina ListaDecember 9, 2015
2_424_933816bc-0b44-4f62-8503-74fc00592dca

One of Chicago’s most prolific artists, Marcos Raya, highlighted at city museum

Latina ListaDecember 8, 2015
2_418_d6650135-5378-41d7-bbc4-f01770b591a2

Young refugees who arrive at the border alone struggle in U.S.

Latina ListaDecember 7, 2015