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Mayra R Mechanical Heart Pump Gives New Jersey Woman a New Lease on Life

Mayra says she feels great and is looking forward to celebrating many more birthdays with her friends, family and her HeartMate II.

Mayra Rodriguez, 38 years-old, Union Township, NJ, has been living and thriving with her long-term durable heart pump for the past ten years.

In 2007, she had just given birth to her son Gabriel when she began to experience symptoms of heart failure. Mayra remembers feeling shortness of breath and gaining at least 15 pounds. At first she thought it was normal post-pregnancy fatigue but then she became too weak to carry her son to his crib and her elbows and knees were so bloated it was painful to bend them.

This was not her first bout with illness, two years earlier Mayra had battled non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. She was treated with chemotherapy and radiation and would later develop cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle. A few months after receiving news of her heart condition Mayra learned she was expecting her first child.

Now, after giving birth to her son, Mayra was diagnosed with heart failure, hospitalized and prescribed several medications to relieve her fluid retention but nothing worked; she was transferred to Newark Beth Israel Medical Center.

The Advanced Heart Failure Treatment and Transplant Team at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, an RWJBarnabas Health facility, discovered that Mayra’s heart was barely moving and her kidneys and liver were also deteriorating.

On May 4, 2008 Mayra almost went into cardiac arrest and was placed on an emergency life support device called ECMO (extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation) to keep her alive until the surgical team could implant temporary emergency mechanical heart pumps, which would take over the work of her failed heart.

In the next two weeks, Mayra’s liver and kidney function returned to normal but her heart function remained poor; it was clear that she was totally dependent on mechanical support to keep her alive.

On May 19, she returned to the operating room to have her emergency mechanical pumps replaced by a long-term durable heart pump (HeartMate II).

The operation went well and 10 years later Mayra and her family are hiking together, walking 5Ks and she even goes to the gym three times a week. Mayra says she feels great and is looking forward to celebrating many more birthdays with her friends, family and her HeartMate II.

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Mayra Rodriguez NBI Patient Story