Just 12 hours after she was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension, Julia and her husband arrived at Magee via ambulance. Within the next 12 hours, Julia was intubated and delivered by Caesarian section a small, but healthy baby boy.
"They performed the C-section in the ICU," says Julia. "People from 9 different departments were there. The room was overflowing."
The next day, Julia was transported to the Cardiac ICU at UPMC Presbyterian. There, physicians who were with UPMC’s Comprehensive Pulmonary Hypertension Program, started her on an IV that went directly into her heart, delivering Flolan, a drug that dilates the blood vessels in the heart so more blood can pump through the lungs.
Julia spent 2 weeks in the ICU, then another week in the hospital. A few days before she was discharged, friends came to the Step Down Unit with her newborn baby, who had been kept in the NICU to gain weight. Not long after, the family was together again in their home in Mechanicsburg, Pa.
"My son and I are alive today because they worked together to save us," states Julia.
That trust led Julia’s family to make a big decision. They moved to Pittsburgh to be closer to her doctor at UPMC.
"I’ve been in the hospital 6 or 7 times at Presby. Each time, it’s the best care. I’m impressed with the doctors, the technology, and the caring hearts of the nurses. "
She adds, "I’m on a continual IV. I’ve been on different drugs. One by one, they’ve stopped working. Now I’m in a clinical trial. Once again, UPMC is extending my life."
Julia was asked to participate in the clinical trial because she was one of the few pulmonary hypertension patients who was sick enough to qualify.
The opportunity to participate in clinical trials is a benefit for many patients, because it affords the chance to receive a new type of therapy or treatment that may not have otherwise been available to them.
UPMC has a strong reputation in cardiovascular disease research. At any one time, there are typically more than 100 clinical trials ongoing at UPMC, in the area of cardiovascular disease alone.
So far, Julia has noticed a difference from her treatment.
"The distance I can walk in 6 minutes has almost doubled. I’m still on the same amount of oxygen, but the quality of my life has drastically improved."