LEHIGH VALLEY — Lindsey Hannigan celebrated her 21st birthday on Jan. 29 at home in Clarks Summit, aware that she might not have reached this milestone of adult life.
Less than two months before, the college junior had heart surgery at Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH) in Allentown to replace her diseased aortic valve with one that would allow blood to easily flow from her heart to the rest of her body. The operation was done just in time, as her own valve had been leaking dangerously with each heartbeat over the past few months.
She recalls the mounting fatigue and stabbing chest pain during her fall semester at the University of Pittsburgh, where she studies psychology.
“The chest pain occurred at all times of the day, whether I was exercising, sitting, lying down or walking,” she said in a news release.
A test at nearby Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh, revealed the problem was at its worst stage. She was told surgery was desperately needed and soon.
On Dec. 10, Raymond Singer, M.D., LVH’s chief of cardiothoracic surgery, removed Hannigan’s damaged, “native” valve and replaced it with one made of cow tissue so she wouldn’t need blood thinners that are necessary with artificial valves.
Hannigan started a cardiac rehabilitation program and is feeling better each day.
With plans to return in May to college, she hopes to specialize in a new branch of psychology that helps patients deal with the emotional issues heart patients often experience.