KATY, Texas – A woman from Katy is celebrating Mother’s Day for the first time this weekend and she believes her new baby is the reason she’s alive today.
Juno Evans had severe aortic stenosis, but she didn’t know it when she first got pregnant.
“My shortness of breath had gotten worse and my ankles are swelling and I was only like six-weeks pregnant so that didn’t seem too normal,” Evans explained.
She was born with a heart condition but thought it had resolved and went years without seeing a specialist. While pregnant, she thought it might be best to get her heart checked. It turned out she needed a valve replacement.
“As those physiological changes occur, this was occurring and causing more damage to her heart because of this bad valve,” said UT Health and Memorial Hermann cardiovascular surgeon, Dr. Anthony Estrera.
Estrera said because Evans was pregnant and needed to deliver early, it took a team of doctors to determine how to make sure she and the baby survived.
“It was getting pretty tenuous because her heart was starting to dilate more and more, which was expected because of the stress of the pregnancy,” Estrera said.
They decided to use a medical balloon to open her valve temporarily, but even during that less invasive procedure, a team of doctors was on standby in case things went wrong.
“The potential complication is if you open it too much, you can cause much more leakage, and that’s why we had to be prepared to do an emergent valve replacement,” Estrera said.
The balloon helped Evans make it to 32 weeks during the pregnancy. She had to deliver via C-section and send her baby to the NICU before having open-heart surgery.
“The scariest part was being prepped for both the C-section and the open-heart surgery at the same time just in case anything was to happen. My biggest fear was that if that did happen I wouldn’t get to hold my son. I wouldn’t get to tell him I love him. I would only get that one little moment I got with him in the delivery room and I wouldn’t have anything more,” Evans explained.
However, the results of the open-heart surgery were outstanding,” according to Estrera.
“I went ahead and enlarged her, what we call an aortic root so that we could put a very sizeable, mechanical valve prosthesis. So, my anticipation is she’ll live the rest of her life with that,” Estrera said. “She has the potential to live a very long life.”
Evans credits her son, Jax, with saving her life. Had she not thought to get her condition checked out further while she was pregnant, she may not be alive today, which makes this Mother’s Day extra special for their family.