Samantha Neal-30

Name: Samantha Neal
Age at time of Dissection: 30
Type of Dissection: Ascending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 19 July 2012
Tell Us Your Story:

Ifirst had pain on the morning of July 19,2012 while eating breakfast. It was a sharp pain that started at the base of my throat. I was just swallowing a bite of my waffle and thought it was just bad heartburn at first but then my vision sort of went dark for a moment and my lower jaw and bottom teeth started feeling numb and tingling. I can’t say the pain was all that bad really. I only called my husband because of the near-fainting and I certainly did not want my newborn to be by himself if I were to pass out.

Well, my husband being the hero that he is, came home from work right away (took him about ten minutes) and by then the pain was more in the center of my chest. I would maybe rate it 5/10 (I’m an RN). Since it did not go away we went to the small hospital where I work and they did all the cardiac blood work which, of course, was negative. Then the Dr. ordered a CT with contrast to check for PE. The CT did not show any abnormalities. The Dr. said it was probably GERD or possibly a gall bladder attack. I felt very silly. After a GI cocktail I lied and said I felt better. I was given a script for protonix and sent home. I didn’t take a single protonix. I didn’t know what was wrong but I knew it wasn’t GERD.

I made a follow-up appointment with my famiy Dr. and saw him on July 26th. Let me tell ya that was a miserable 6 days. When I would lay down it felt like a knife was stabbing me in the chest and back so it was nearly impossible to get comfortable to sleep. I was also nursing a newborn every 2-3 hours. My poor husband had to put up with quite a bit of whining. Anyway…when I finally saw my Dr. that morning at 9:30 he decided to admit me to a larger hospital close by to get IV antibiotics and gall bladder tests. (I was also running a fever thanks to a UTI).

On day 2 in the hospital my Dr came and said he saw some fluid on my heart and ordered a consult with a cardiologist to check it out. Cardiologist ordered an echo and bingo! Mystery finally solved! They did another CT with contrast that confirmed I had a Stanford type II dissection. I was taken to ICU and told I had two choices: have the surgery repair done there which they said they had a “fair” amount of success with, or I could take a helicopter ride to Vanderbilt where they have a higher success rate and deal with this type of emergencies more. “Chopper, Please!!”

So my surgery was done at Vanderbilt on July 27th and I can’t say enough good things about the doctors and nurses there. It’s a wonderful hospital full of awesome people. I can’t figure out how to put a link to the news article but anyone who might be interested can google Samantha Neal aortic dissection and find the story. Love this site and reading all the stories!


Marc Janis-65


Steven Riley-49


  1. Samantha Neal

    Oops I meant a Stanford type A. I’m just now reading about the DeBakey classifications. Also wanted to say that I spent 6 days at Vanderbilt after surgery and my recovery has gone very well. I’ve been back to work full time since Oct. 21st. I’m prescribed Metoprolol 25mg twice a day to keep my heart rate in the 60’s. I’ve never had high b/p. Not even during my 2 pregnancies. I actually just heard from the genetic specialist today that my DNA tests came back showing no genetic abnormalities. They said they could do further testing but I’ve decided not to. I’m so glad to be here with my husband and 2 sons. Life is fragile and precious 🙂

  2. Glad you shared your story, welcome to the AD family! Keep the faith! God has a plan!
    kind regards, Brian Tinsley founder

  3. stuhasic

    Very lucky Samantha. I’m so glad this worked out well after eight days without diagnosis. I’m sure your youth and smaller frame helped, but as always, the doctors and nurses are amazing to be able to replace a portion of such a life-critical artery. Welcome to the club.   🙂

  4. Ruth Christ

    Thank you Samantha for sharing. What you wrote here about your symptoms, “It was a sharp pain that started at the base of my throat. I was just swallowing a bite of my waffle and thought it was just bad heartburn at first but then my vision sort of went dark for a moment and my lower jaw and bottom teeth started feeling numb and tingling.” Was very similiar with what happened to me. I felt comforted knowing someone else went through what I did and survived 🙂 Especially another younger woman. Glad you are still here.

  5. Stevie Freeman-Montes

    Samantha, thank you for sharing your story. I clicked on your name because you were a female and 30 and I was curious to read your symptoms. I lost my best friend and sister, Lindsey, two days after her 30th birthday and ten days after she delivered her beautiful son. Reading that you also experienced this after birth makes me wonder about the relationship of birth and dissections. Lindsey had a c-section and complained immediately after her surgery of chest pains. They told her it was ‘gas’ from her surgery. She complained on and off all ten days. I miss her but am so thankful we have a piece of her here on earth through her son. Thank you for sharing your story- it really touched me. —Stevie

  6. Samantha Neal

    Stevie I’m sorry sorry to hear about your sister. I have 4 sisters myself and couldn’t imagine losing any one of them. My doctors have told me that there is a connection with pregnancy and dissection but that its usually due to the fact that many women suffer from high blood pressure during pregnancy. I’ve never had high blood pressure so they continue to tell me that I likely have a genetic disorder that is to blame. I just hope they find a good way to screen/test for dissection an that it becomes a routine for any patient with chest pain. Thanks for sharing. God Bless you and your family.

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