Nilsa's Heart StoryMar 3, 2020
Nilsa Gomez, valve patient, Florida Medical Center
For Nilsa Gomez and her husband Freddy, nothing makes their heart skip a beat more than taking a spin on the dance floor. But one night when the couple went dancing at their favorite Colombian nightclub, something went terribly wrong.
We always have a great time and dance until our feet ache, but this particular night was different—everything ached," Nilsa said. "Instead of having energy, I was fatigued. Instead of dancing confidently, I was afraid of fainting. Instead of feeling full of life, I was out of breath."
A few days later, Nilsa faced her fears and went to see her doctor. He ordered an echocardiogram, which confirmed what she had feared: That she was once again having trouble with her heart.
Nilsa was born with a heart murmur, but neither her parents nor her doctors in her home country of Colombia were concerned about it. It wasn't until she became pregnant with her daughter that she was diagnosed with aortic valve stenosis. At 42, she had open heart surgery to repair the narrowed aortic valve. "After the surgery, I thought my heart issues were behind me, but unfortunately I was wrong," she said.
After another echocardiogram, the heart experts at Florida Medical Center determined that she not only needed a valve replacement, but also an aneurysm had formed. Nilsa was scheduled for surgery right away.
"While most surgeons wouldn't take the risk of operating on me, my family and I put all of our trust in the surgical team at Florida Medical Center," Nilsa said. "After working on my heart for 12 straight hours, they successfully completed the operation."
Nilsa underwent a long and challenging surgery and recovery process, and after three weeks, she was able to go home, just in time for Mother's Day. Unfortunately, her heart issues were still not over. On the Fourth of July, about two months after the surgery, Nilsa felt a severe pain in her chest unlike anything she felt before. "The symptoms became so unbearable that my family called 9-1-1," she said. "I was taken to a nearby hospital and later transferred to Florida Medical Center, my hospital of choice."
There the cardiologist discovered a new problem unrelated to the previous condition. One of Nilsa's arteries was blocked, so he inserted a stent to improve the blood flow.
"I feel extremely grateful to have been saved twice by the wonderful physicians at Florida Medical Center,” Nilsa said. "Before visiting the hospital, I was extremely sick and couldn't even carry on a conversation without losing my breath. They gave me my life back, and I can’t wait to get back to where I feel most alive—on the dance floor with my husband."