DeJanaeDeJanae, 29, was always very active and enjoyed spending time with her son and fiancé at home. During playtime with her son, she started having chest pain and the sensation that her heart beat was skipping but thought it was a response to high physical activity. Then, during a routine doctor’s visit in the beginning of the year, a heart murmur was discovered.

A heart murmur is a sound of abnormal blood flow through a valve in the heart and can be heard with a stethoscope. Since DeJanae had an abnormal heart murmur, she required follow-up testing to determine what kind of treatment she needed.

In March, she underwent a transesophageal echocardiography (TEE), a type of ultrasound that allows the doctor to see pictures of the heart without the ribs or lungs getting in the way.

The images from the transesophageal echocardiography showed that she had mitral valve prolapse due to a ruptured chord, strands in the heart that usually link between the mitral valve and the left ventricle. Mitral valve prolapse is a condition where one or both of the mitral valve flaps bulges into the left atrium during the contraction of the heart.

DeJanae also was diagnosed with a mitral regurgitation, a condition where one or more of the mitral valve flaps aren’t able to close properly, causing blood to flow backward. Since this condition is severe and can affect the heart’s ability to pump blood, her cardiologist determined that she needed surgery.

In April, DeJanae was referred to the MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute at Long Beach Medical Center where she would receive treatment. Marc Sakwa, M.D., medical director, Adult Cardiovascular Surgery, MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute, Long Beach Medical Center, performed a minimally invasive procedure to preserve her mitral valve and repair it.

Rather than traditional open-heart surgery, this minimally invasive procedure is performed through smaller incisions, which allows for quicker recovery and less pain, the minimally invasive procedure that was done on DeJanae involved a three-inch incision on the right side of her chest. After nearly five hours, her heart valve was successfully.

Marc Sakwa, M.D.

After the procedure, DeJanae was transferred into the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) she began her recovery. With the help of the care team in the ICU, her condition improved, and she began physical and cardiac rehabilitation.

She showed great progress and did very well. After four days, she was able to go home. In the following months to come, she would return to her cardiologist for check-ups and to monitor her progress.

“This condition really changed my life and when I felt defeated because I was not able to do even the little things, it was easy for me to snap into a depression,” said DeJanae. “But with my son, fiancé and God by my side, I’m always trying my best to recover and do better.”