By Paula Huffingham-Suhey
Imagine preparing for sinus surgery, but then finding out you have a heart defect. That’s what happened to Karla Manley, 33, when she, after undergoing the ‘normal’ pre-op tests, was found to have a congenital defect that had gone undetected previously. The two chambers of her heart were transposed.
“I was told that I would need a heart transplant,” she said. “I was shocked. I’ve never experienced any symptoms,” said Manley. “I wasn’t the fastest kid as far as physical endurance, but I never had the idea anything was wrong.”
What doctors discovered in 2003 was that she had TGV (transposition of the great vessel), which changes the way the blood circulates through the body resulting in a shortage of oxygen.
Miraculously, almost ten years later, she hasn’t needed a transplant – and may never need one – thanks to a procedure done at Mayo Clinic where Karla has worked since coming to this area from St. Louis in 1999.
Karla’s care has been orchestrated by a team of two cardiologists, Daniel Yip, M.D., and Naser Ammash, M.D., and a cardiovascular surgeon Joseph Dearani, M.D., who implanted a mechanical heart valve and repaired an atrial septal defect in May 2012.
“Your heart is the engine that runs your whole body,” Manley said. “If this engine is damaged in any way, it affects all your other systems in some way. It’s so important to keep this engine fine-tuned – maintaining a regular exercise routine, eating well-balanced meals and avoiding stress at all cost – so we can live the life we want to live.”
Manley walked in the 2012 Heart Walk with her miniature schnauzer, Gidget, and looks forward to some of her family joining her for the 2013 walk.
“I believe that things happen for a reason. That there is a plan for our lives. Certainly my moving to Jacksonville and working for the Mayo Clinic here was one of those things. I’m very grateful,” she said.
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net