Name: Tarana Desai
Age at time of Dissection: 34
Type of Dissection: Descending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 26 November 2013
Tell Us Your Story:

It was the weekend and there was lots to be done before our lives changed forever. My husband and I were excitedly counting days as we were expecting our first baby. We were looking forward to welcoming our child and were anxious to have him / her as part of our family.

I had a very smooth pregnancy except for the usual morning sickness. Was really active and enjoyed the feeling of my baby inside me. Since it was our first baby we both had decided not to find out the sex and let the surprise build up over the 9 months.

On 22nd November, 2013, Friday we had our 36 weeks doctors appointment. Doctor Ghosh once again confirmed during the 3D scan that the baby had not inherited any of my sharp features and looked exactly like my husband and all I was doing was carrying him / her for 9 months. The baby was doing great so my husband and I decided to celebrate as our wait was going to be over soon.

23rd November, 2013, Saturday was the beginning of the weekend. There was a lot on my to do list to do as we prepared for the little one. I had decided to get my hospital bag ready and was in great spirits. Being an early riser I got done with my household chores and was chatting with my parents when I felt a throbbing pain in between my chest. I promptly hung up the phone and rushed to my husband. I told him I was in pain and that I felt like I was having a heart attack.

We both obviously panicked but started thinking of options where we could go to get medical help. We first decided to go to the nearest hospital but decided against it and headed to the Matilda Hospital where I was due to deliver on 22nd December, 2013

My belief in the quotation “A friend in need is a friend indeed” became stronger with this experience. My husband called our close friends for support when we headed to the hospital and they were by our side until the entire ordeal was over.

We were attended by the doctor on call at the hospital who diagnosed it to be acid reflux and prescribed paracetamol to relive the pain. By the time we headed back home the pain had subsided drastically and I decided to eat something as it wouldn’t be good to miss a meal for the baby. The food made me uncomfortable and I threw up and only felt better after I took the paracetamol. Spent the evening in mild pain and hence decided to accept our friends dinner invite to divert our mind and enjoy the change. However, the pain continued and the evening wasn’t as much fun as we would have liked it to be.

Through the night the pain subsided and I woke up on 24th November, 2013, Sunday to a cheerful me in good spirits to wish my sister on her birthday! Sunday was great, spent it on household chores, watched tv and relaxed. Had an early dinner and we must have slept for about an hour and my worst night of my lifetime took over both our sleep.

The pain started on 24th November at 10:30 pm and stopped only around midnight on 26th November, 2013, Tuesday the day two people were born – My second life and my baby girl my life.

The night of 24th November was a sleepless one. I had piercing pain in the middle of my chest and at the very same point behind my back. I used to feel relief with a hot water shower and a hot electric pack on my back. My husband and me hardly slept as we tried anything that worked to relive me off the pain.

Through the night we decided that on 25th November, 2013, Monday I would not stay alone at home and head to a close friends house for a day. However, that need didn’t arise as at 5:30 am the pain really intensified and we decided to page my obstetrician and rush to the hospital once again.

Lucky for us he had an emergency and was already at the hospital. We tried once again to continue with the Saturday doctors diagnosis and treat me for acid reflux however the medication didn’t relive my pain and seeing how pale I looked the doctor took a call that I should be immediately rushed to one of the best public hospitals in Hong Kong, Queen Mary Hospital.

The system in Hong Kong is that for all medical complications the patients are rushed to the teaching / public hospital. What seemed forever we waited for the ambulance and was taken to the labour ward for diagnosis. Initially things moved slowly. They started monitoring my baby’s heartbeat and I was relived to know that the baby was doing great.

Through the day different doctors came and checked on me. The pain had subsided from what I understand due to the blood pressure medication I was given. By evening they had narrowed down on what was wrong with me. My aorta, the most important artery in the heart supplying blood to the body had ruptured and needed to be fixed immediately. They would need to do a Caesarian section first and get the baby out post which the heart surgery would be done.

By night there was a lot of activity around me. Doctors doing tests, nurses attending to me, forms being signed, decisions being made, etc. By this time it was decided that my parents would fly down as the risks of the surgery were high. We left the onus on our competent doctors to make the right decision to make the operation a success. It was suggested by the Cardiologist that we would need to do a CT scan along with contract to determine the extent of damage done. This would mean some amount of harm to my baby. It was a right decision as to save a life another had to be affected, however our doctors insisted on it and with the baby already turned and by 36 weeks the chances were only his / her legs would get affected if at all.

One of the cardiac surgeons who was a part of the team to operate on me, explained to us my health condition, details, procedure, time taken and risks of the operation. My husband and I spent over two hours once I got transferred to the Cardiac-thoracic ICU in preparation for my surgery. We joked, chatted and relived some of our fun moments together from the past as neither of us wanted to even think of the repercussions of this operation.

On 26th November, 2013, Tuesday around 1 am the time had come to put this entire ordeal behind us. I was escorted to the operation theatre. With a smile on my face I bid farewell to my husband and our close friends who patiently waited outside to help us through this sudden development in our lives.

My awake moments in the operation theatre were the most scary ones. Over 20 doctors and nurses surrounded me as they prepared for what might be the toughest operation I will ever go through my entire life. I prayed to god for an outcome that he thought was the best for me and my husband.

My operation went on for almost 12 hours. I thank The Lord for giving strength to my husband through what must have been the toughest night of his life so far. I gave birth to a healthy baby girl. My husband was so disturbed and stressed with the entire situation that all he needed to know from the nurse when our princess “Isha” was born and being taken to the N – ICU was if the baby was doing ok. Isha was called the “miracle baby” in the days to come at the hospital. Rightly said she fought through the entire struggle strongly by my side. Isha in Sanskrit means Shakti / Strength which she definitely gave me to fight through. As I came out of the effects of general anesthesia the first thing I wanted to know was how my baby was doing.

All the doctors and nurses of the cardiac unit prayed hard for me and my baby as this was the first such operation in over 2 – 3 decades. Things were uphill from here on. My positive thinking and inner strength helped in my fast recovery. I was out of the Cardiac- thoracic ICU in about 24 hours and discharged from the cardiac general ward to start a new phase in my life in 9 days.