Name: Leisha H
Age at time of Dissection: 49
Type of Dissection: Both Ascending and Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 20 April 2012
Tell Us Your Story:

Let me begin by saying that I thought I was healthy and without medical problems. I had been in Iraq for 50 months! It is truly amazing that I am still alive and thanks to God for watching over me. Death was near and it was my fault for inviting it. I knew that my father’s family had a terrible history of aortic rupture, but thought my family had been passed over; even though my father had aortic valve replacement and died from an abdominal aneurysm!
While I was on vacation in Honduras, I experienced a warm burning sensation that traveled from my neck down my legs, caused weakness and a sensation of lock jaw. I then became violently ill and thought it was bad water (never experienced that before either).

I recovered except for a bad pain in my back between my shoulder blades that never left and that I had never experienced before. Once home, I continued with normal activities but was plagued with shortness of breath and a cough. I was treated with steroids and typical nasal remedies.Finally on June 18, 2012, not being able to breath, I went to the doctor and asked for lung x-rays. It showed both lungs 1/2 full. I was hooked to EKG (went tachy) and told an ambulance needed to take me immediately to a hospital.

I replied, my insurance won’t cover that! My sister in law drove me to the nearest large hospital, where they told me I needed Life Flight helicopter immediately. Once again I replied, my insurance won’t cover that! So, away in ambulance, through rush hour traffic to the medical center where my life was saved. I spent 11 days recovering after replacement of the aortic valve and descending thoracic. Unresolved aortic dissections held up my release and continue to be a worry today.

I am in genetic testing without a match so far, other than in is not Marfan. My grandfather died of pneumonia at 28, but I am confident he experienced the same thing I did, because I would have sworn I had pneumonia. Dr Cooley replaced my dad’s aorta and told us that we needed regular testing, but I ignored the warning even though I lost 3 cousins, father, and uncles.

Had I been unhealthy, I would not have lived. Generations of my father’s family, married, had one male child, and died. This is not an old person’s disease, in my family there are no old people who survive.