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Open Heart Surgery At 40

By Sherrie Evans
Published On: Jun 05 2011 07:21:48 AM CDT
Updated On: Jun 06 2011 03:46:44 AM CDT

She's a single mom with heart disease and her condition is rare. Jeannie Goodman says her daughter Hanna lost her father when she was six and there have been many times in the last five years she's come close to losing her mom too.

KINGSPORT, Tenn. -

For more than a year, News 5 WCYB has told you stories about women's heart health. It's part of our Go Red For Women Campaign with Wellmont Health System to raise awareness about heart disease.

She's a single mom with heart disease and her condition is rare. Jeannie Goodman says her daughter Hanna lost her father when she was six and there have been many times in the last five years she's come close to losing her mom too.

Dr. Marc Mayhew with Wellmont CVA Heart Institute says Jeannie Goodman was born with an abnormal connection between one of her coronary arteries and one of the arteries that go to the lungs. The problem didn't become an issue until her late thirties. "I got to where I could not walk at all," Goodman said. "If we walked to the end of my street, I was literally in tears."

The pain led to complete bed rest. Goodman says many people didn't believe she was sick because she's only in her forties and she looks healthy. But on the inside, she needed some work done.

When Goodman finally learned about her condition the answer from several doctors on how to fix it was open heart surgery. "They kept saying you need to have this surgery, but you're too young to have open heart surgery," she said. But the Heart Institute in Kingsport offered her a different option.

Dr. Mayhew told her he could install a piece of metal into the problem area and fix the abnormal connection without open heart surgery. "This particular abnormality would be difficult to fix in the operating room because this shunt is difficult to see. It's fairly easy to see in a catheter lab where we can use x-ray procedures and catheters to find an abnormal connection."

Goodman says the procedure has made it possible to prepare for operations she'll need for other health issues. "I'm just thankful to be here, I thank God," said Goodman. For now, she is walking her way to better her health and looking forward to a happier future.

Dr. Mayhew says Goodman's type of heart disease is considered structural heart disease. While, her condition is fairly uncommon, some people might not even have symptoms, unlike Goodman who experienced shortness of breath and pain. It's always good to get checked out if you experience anything not normal.