Iman Dorty had been living in California with her sister Megan in pursuit of a career in modeling. Pregnant with her son Liam, Iman spent the summer away from work to prepare for his arrival.
She began experiencing extreme headaches. Armed with aspirin and plenty of sleep, her attempts to subside the pain were unsuccessful. Hoping for answers, Iman's visit to a doctor in Los Angeles left her feeling even more helpless. Her symptoms were written off as common pregnancy ailments.
Still tormented by agonizing headaches, a decreased appetite and sleepless nights of coughing, Iman couldn't bear to live in pain any longer. "We were taking her to the doctor almost every week. They would give her some medicine then send her on her way," says Megan. "I knew she wasn't ok, so I called my mom and started making plans to come home." It wasn't long before Iman and Megan packed up their belongings and headed back to South Carolina to live with their mother.
Early one morning three weeks later, Megan was getting dressed when she heard her mother let out a panicked scream to call an ambulance. Iman was in her bed motionless and unresponsive. She was rushed to Palmetto Health Heart Hospital. What they initially believed was a seizure ended up being much worse. At only 29 years old, they discovered an infection in her heart that would require open heart surgery.
Deciding the best course of action was almost impossible. The pregnancy was putting extra strain on Iman's heart, but with her due date still four weeks away, delivering the baby would put her child's health at risk. The doctors waited as long as they could, but with Iman's declining health, they couldn't wait any longer.
Baby Liam was welcomed into the world at only 4lbs and healthy enough to go home after only a two week stay in the hospital. Iman, however, still had a long road ahead of her. Palmetto Health Heart Hospital surgeon Ryan Burke performed open heart surgery, but Iman's heart was too weak and the procedure didn't help.
Running out of options, Dr. Burke and his colleagues had to undertake a procedure they've never done before. They decided to implant an Impella 5.0 into Iman's heart, marking the first time this revolutionary device had ever been used in South Carolina.
Megan says the hardest part was that she did not know if her sister would survive the surgery. She was thankful to find comfort in the extraordinary care of the Palmetto Health Heart Hospital staff. She says, "The doctors and nurses took great care of her and made sure she had what she needed, but they also took care of the family, keeping our spirits up."
Iman improved in just five weeks and was finally able to go home to her newborn. "I'm so thankful that my recovery is so speedy," says Iman. "Every day it gets better. It's awesome being a mom and being able to do the things I can do now."