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Elaina’s Story (Aortic Aneurysm)

I am an aortic aneurysm survivor. I have struggled with chronic pain and various conditions related to an undiagnosed form of connective tissue disorder, which also included an aortic aneurysm that has been monitored since I was eight. When I was 14 years old, I started having mysterious back pain that the doctors could not explain. Over the next 8 months, I was in and out the ER.

In August 2010, I went in for a routine echocardiogram to check my aneurysm. Later that night, the head of cardiac surgery at Johns Hopkins told my parents and I that I needed an aortic valve sparing root replacement as soon as possible. Three weeks later, on September 3, 2010, I had open heart surgery to repair my aorta. Due to complications from the surgery, I spent two weeks in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), which included my 15th birthday. A week after my original surgery, I underwent another surgery to implant a pacemaker to treat post surgical heart block.

Since then, I have endured seven  more surgeries and hundreds of procedures and scans. I am currently a graduate student at Grand Canyon University earning my master’s degree in counseling. I have survived against some tough odds and I will continue to fight like a girl!

Submitted 08/16/2020

This story is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.

One comment

  1. Linda

    Wow! You are such a fighter and survivor. You are amazing!!!!!! I am a breast cancer survivor of almost 20 years. I too have an aneurysm on my aorta. They have been watching it slowly grow. It is now at 4.3 cm and they will operate at 5 cm. Because it is right at my heart I will need open heart surgery to have it repaired. I feel like I am a ticking time bomb. I can’t even imagine going through everything that you have at such a young age. You are an inspiration. Thank you so much for sharing your amazing and courageous story.

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