Vanessa Lloyd, 28, was home in Hartford alone with her 2-year-old daughter when she kept fainting.
To be safe, she called her mother to drive her to the Emergency Department at UConn John Dempsey Hospital. But as their car pulled up to the ED’s entrance Vanessa passed out again right there.
Her mother ran into the ED for help and a team of nurses and UConn Health Fire Department paramedics rushed to the car.
“I was really scared,” recalls Lloyd who only briefly remembers the paramedics rolling her into the ED from the car. She figured her fainting was linked to her 2011 epilepsy diagnosis, but she was wrong.
While in the ED Lloyd’s heart suddenly stopped.
“UConn saved my life. The nurses successfully performed CPR on me and shocked my heart with a defibrillator to restart it,” shared Lloyd. “I woke up and immediately, started talking and recall asking the medical team- ‘what just happened’?”
“This young woman is very lucky to be in the right place at the right time,” says her treating physician, Dr. Christopher Vetter of the Emergency Department at UConn John Dempsey Hospital. “She went into a dangerous ventricular fibrillation arrhythmia which our nurses immediately recognized, allowing us to defibrillate her heart into normal rhythm.”
Doctors suspect that Lloyd may never have had epilepsy because she never experienced epileptic seizures. UConn Health’s Calhoun Cardiology Center’s heart experts believe that Lloyd has Long QT Syndrome, a condition which can cause an abnormal and chaotic rapid heartbeat leading to fainting or even sudden cardiac death. It stems from a genetic predisposition or could be triggered for example by certain medications. It is common for the fainting spells that people with Long QT syndrome experience to be very similar in appearance as epilepsy, often leading to confusion over the diagnosis. She is awaiting genetic testing to confirm her diagnosis.
Lloyd was completely surprised that her health was at risk by a dangerous arrhythmia as she works daily in a hospital as a telemetry technician specifically monitoring patients for them.
“Thank you to everyone at UConn that helped save my life,” says Lloyd. “I am so grateful and so very happy — beyond happy.”
While in the hospital recovering, a combination implantable pacemaker and cardioverter defibrillator device was minimally invasively implanted under her chest’s skin with tiny wires connecting it to her heart.
“The dual technology allows us to now monitor Vanessa’s heart rhythms from a far, and the device will help regulate her heart beat, preventing it from going too slow, the situation in which her heart rhythm might become dangerous chaotic again – and also even restart her heart if it ever suddenly stops again,” says Dr. Christopher Pickett, her electrophysiologist at the Calhoun Cardiology Center of UConn Health.
Lloyd stressed: “The technology not only protects my heart health, but also gives me peace of mind for when I am alone caring for my young daughter.”
In honor of the lifesaving work of her doctors and nurses at UConn Health, Lloyd nicknamed her new pacemaker device “Jonathan” after the UConn Husky.
“I am so thankful to everyone at UConn so there was no better name. No matter where I go, I now have a little piece of UConn inside me keeping my heart beating.”
She advises others, young and old, that if you feel anything uneasy or abnormal about your body to go get it checked out by a doctor.
“Take your health very seriously,” she says.
Lloyd also credits the nurses instrumental in saving her life including Amanda Costello, Sarah Urso and Erica Gomez.
(As written by UCONN Health)
A special thank you to Christine Petit of Le Petit Studio for taking photos of the Hoffman Go Red Gallery women. www.PetitPics.com
Each day I wake up I thank God to be alive, and try to live each day according to his purpose. I spend time with my daughter, family, attend school and strive to absorb all life has to offer.”