NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Sunday will be an extra special Mother’s Day for a young mother on Long Island.
Sharon Savino nearly died before she could deliver her baby and had to undergo open heart surgery while pregnant.
CBS 2’s Dr. Max Gomez sat down exclusively with the woman to hear more about her ordeal.
To remove the tumor growing in Savino’s heart, surgeons decided they would have to stop her heart and put her on a heart-lung machine. That’s very risky for the baby she was still carrying.
It took a heart team, a pediatric neonatal team and a surgical team to make this Mother’s Day happen.
The 26-year-old is healthy, as is her newborn son Maximus.
“Definitely a miracle,” Savino said.
In her second trimester, she said she felt tired and run down and then started coughing up blood. Tests showed a non-cancerous tumor the size of an egg in her heart.
“The tumor itself, aside from the fact that it was inside the heart and causing some blockage of a valve, had the potential for segments of it actually breaking free and then traveling in the bloodstream, which could cause a stroke,” Dr. James Taylor, chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Stony Brook University Hospital, told Gomez.
Savino said her baby was her main concern.
“I wanted them to take the baby out first just in case anything would happen,” she told Gomez.
Doctors at Stony Brook University Hospital told Savino having her baby at 27 weeks could put him at risk for developmental problems, but that she still needed surgery right away to remove the tumor.
Savino had open heart surgery in January. Surgeons had to work quickly because the baby’s blood supply could be compromised during the operation.
“That might have resulted in the mother going into labor, or it might have resulted in a problem with the baby,” said Dr. Taylor.
The surgery was a success. Savino spent the rest of her pregnancy at home recovering before welcoming her son last month.
She said the whole experience has her counting her blessings this Mother’s Day.
“I’m able to spend it with my children that are healthy and I’m healthy,” said Savino.
Performing open heart surgery on pregnant women is rare. Doctors will usually try to deliver the baby at the time of surgery but Savino wasn’t far enough along in her pregnancy to do that.
Her doctors only found about 17 cases like hers in the world.
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