Marie Domingo never got to experience the first few weeks of bonding with her newborn daughter. Instead, she was in an induced coma after suddenly developing end-stage heart failure.

Marie in hospital

The mum of one from NSW was on life-support for weeks and had to undergo a heart transplant just a few weeks after giving birth in October 2018. It was an incredibly surreal time she says, and one that has made her relish every moment with her daughter Faith.

Marie, who lives near Maitland in NSW, started to feel unwell with the flu a few weeks before giving birth but had no idea she was suffering from postpartum cardiomyopathy, a rare disease that causes the heart’s left ventricle to become dangerously enlarged and weakened.

Eventually, she finally went to the hospital and a few hours later had an emergency c-section. After giving birth to Faith, she was told her organs were shutting down with end-stage heart failure and she needed a heart transplant.

After being transferred to St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney, she crashed soon after arriving in Emergency and was placed in an induced coma for six weeks.

“That was a lot for my family because I’d just given birth. It was really hard on them too, because Faith was still a baby, and she needed her mother.

“This was the time I should have been bonding with my daughter and instead I was fighting for my life. The doctors did an amazing job of fighting to keep me alive, and I owe them everything. It was really touch and go as to whether I would make it,” says Marie.
Marie with her daughter Faith in hospital

She was in and out of hospital until undergoing a heart transplant in April 2019.

“There was a lot of rehab I had to do, a lot of physio and I also had to take care of my daughter on top of what was going on,” says Marie, who also suffered pneumonia and like many heart transplant survivors had to battle her body rejecting her new heart. “I’m on very high immunosuppressant medication and in those first few weeks and months had to undergo many biopsies to keep an eye on how my heart was doing.”

Marie says she is amazed by the heart transplant research taking place at the Institute and St Vincent’s Hospital. The Institute’s Professor Chris Hayward is part of collaborative effort helping to develop a new artificial heart, with trials expected to take place at the hospital in late 2023.

“I never in my wildest dream thought I would go through something like this. And you never know, it might be you. The artificial heart is something I can't wait to see in the future. And I hope people support this incredible work,” says Marie.
Acknowledgement of Country

The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land, the Gadigal of the Eora nation, on which we meet, work, and discover.
Our Western Australian laboratories pay their respect to the Whadjuk Noongar who remain as the ongoing spiritual and cultural custodians of their land.

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