Vim & Vigor - Fall 2018 - University of Virginia - 51

GENETIC TESTING

Miraculous RECOVERY

Progress came slowly, but eventually
Blevins was weaned off of the machines
keeping her alive. She was awake and
alert. And on Easter Sunday, doctors
confirmed that her kidneys and her liver
were functioning again. The news came
just before a visit from her 13-year-old
son and 10-year-old daughter.
"Having my kids there was the best
part," Blevins says. "The nurses and
therapists had arranged an Easter egg
hunt in the courtyard of the hospital for
them and my two sisters' kids. There
were six of them. They all wore 'Susan
strong' shirts-even some of the staff
ordered one. That was a happy day,
really special."
By the end of April, Blevins was back
on the transplant list and she was determined to be ready for the procedure. "I
started walking to get my strength back
up before surgery," she says. "That was
my goal because I wanted to do well."
On May 27, 2017, Blevins got her new
heart. "For all of the difficulty that she
had prior to the transplant, Susan had
a smooth recovery," says Dr. Yarboro.
"She was eager to get up and do whatever needed to be done to go home."
Blevins did return home ... 120 days
after being admitted to the hospital.
"I'm just so thankful to be able to get
back to being myself again-to be a
mom and wife," says Blevins. "I believe
the prayers of my family, friends,
church family, my healthcare providers
and people I didn't even know got me
through the toughest time of my illness
and recovery. It truly was a miracle."
Another takeaway from this experience for Blevins is the importance of living a heart-healthy lifestyle, especially
for her family. "Fortunately, none of
my blood relatives have any issues with
heart failure. Both of my children have
had a cardiac exam and will continue

Can Improve Management of
Inherited Heart Conditions

Many inherited heart conditions have little to no symptoms. That's why
it's important to know your family history, says Matthew Thomas of
UVA Cardiovascular Genetics Clinic. When inherited heart conditions
are detected early through genetic testing, the complications can often
be successfully managed with medication, careful surveillance, activity
restrictions and/or preventive surgery.
Some key indicators that signal the need for cardiovascular genetic
testing include:
A personal or family history of an inherited heart condition (long QT
syndrome, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or Marfan syndrome)
A personal or family history of thoracic aortic aneurysm or nonischemic cardiomyopathy at a young age (less than 50)
A survivor of an unexplained sudden cardiac arrest
A family history of unexplained sudden death at a young age
"Our goal is to identify those at risk sooner, so that we not only manage
their condition but also inform family members of their potential risk,"
says Thomas.
Learn more about the UVA Cardiovascular Genetics Clinic at
uvahealth.com/geneticrisk.

to be tested every two years for signs of
heart failure and arrhythmia," she says.
"We will continue living a healthy lifestyle and we'll pay special attention to
signs and symptoms that may develop in
the future."
The cardiology team at UVA will
keep a close watch on Blevins from
this point forward, regularly checking
her heart function, but otherwise she
has no limitations. "Susan is just one
of those patients. You wish everyone
could have a story like hers," says Dr.
Yarboro. "She became part of our family and everyone got on board for her-
the ICU doctors and nurses, transplant
team, therapists-they all provided
next-level care around the clock. Susan
is a special person and we're so happy
she's done so well." ■

WEBSITE

Top-Ranked
Heart Care
No matter what heart condition you face, you'll find one
of the nation's top-ranked
cardiology and heart surgery
programs at UVA Heart and
Vascular Center. Learn more at
heart.uvahealth.com.

FALL 2018

51


http://www.uvahealth.com/geneticrisk http://heart.uvahealth.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vim & Vigor - Fall 2018 - University of Virginia

Contents
Vim & Vigor - Fall 2018 - University of Virginia - Cover1
Vim & Vigor - Fall 2018 - University of Virginia - Cover2
Vim & Vigor - Fall 2018 - University of Virginia - Contents
Vim & Vigor - Fall 2018 - University of Virginia - 2
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Vim & Vigor - Fall 2018 - University of Virginia - Cover3
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