Kaitlin Carmody was 14 years old when she received a diagnosis that would affect her dreams of being a mom. As an active high school freshman, Kaitlin collapsed during a cross country meet. She recovered and finished the race, but her parents were concerned with the episode and took her to the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center emergency room.
After getting an abnormal EKG, a common cardiovascular test, she was admitted to the hospital for a more in-depth stress tests and genetic testing. The result was a diagnosis of Long QT Syndrome (LQTS). This is a condition where the genetic instructions for the cells responsible for controlling the heart rhythm are faulty. The result is a potential for heart rhythm abnormalities which can cause sudden collapse, or even death. Kaitlin has a type of LQTS (Type 2) where simple things like startling, loud noises and fatigue can trigger a heart rhythm abnormality.
Because the syndrome is hereditary, Kaitlin’s brother and two additional family members were also tested and learned they too had LQTS. As teens, this meant the end of Kaitlin’s cross country endeavors and the end of her brother’s swim team participation. The inability to participate in competitive sports was a short-term disappointment, but those concerns were ultimately overshadowed when it came to planning for a family. The next riskiest period in Kaitlin’s life would be during childbirth and the post-partum period. There was also the risk that her children would inherit the condition.
In the following years, college and starting a career were her priority. But when Kaitlin met her soon-to-be husband, thoughts of starting a family came back in to focus. Maintaining her syndrome over the years included consistent medication and routine cardiac checks but, once married, she began to investigate the additional risks she might face during pregnancy. A close friend, who is also an ob-gyn, recommended a visit to the Center for Maternal Cardiac Care (CMCC) at TriHealth Good Samaritan Hospital and Dr. William Schnettler.
CMCC is a multidisciplinary program combining the talents of clinical experts in the fields of maternal-fetal medicine, adult cardiology, cardiothoracic surgery, adult and adolescent congenital heart disease, and cardiac and obstetric anesthesia. These teams work together to create a care plan for women with cardiac conditions, so they can experience a safe delivery and overcome any risks that they might face during the stressful period of pregnancy and childbirth.
A consultation at the CMCC gave Kaitlin assurance that she could have a baby and still use her medication. Dr. Schnettler became her primary care provider, offering supportive and comforting advice throughout the journey. Aware of the risks of taking heart medication during pregnancy, Dr. Schnettler and his team worked very hard to ensure the baby would not be harmed by the medication, and that Kaitlin’s health would not be at risk. For a healthy pregnancy, Kaitlin had to keep taking care of her underlying health condition.
Forty weeks later, at full term, the Carmody’s welcomed their firstborn: a healthy 6 pounds, 13 ounces, 19 inch long beautiful baby girl. Although Kaitlin experienced a few issues during her pregnancy and spent a short period in Good Samaritan’s Special Care Obstetric Unit during her 36th week, the pregnancy proceeded fairly routinely considering the circumstances. After a short stay for monitoring during the high-risk post-partum period, Kaitlin and her husband brought their little girl home.
The Carmondy’s are now enjoying life with a new baby and dreaming of the siblings that will come later.
“Dr. Schnettler and the care team offered phenomenal care throughout my pregnancy, making me at ease and comforting me along the way,” Kaitlin says. “We are eternally grateful and will help spread the word to other women facing the same questions and challenges in their pursuit to have a family of their own.”
To learn more about how the Center for Maternal Cardiac Care helps women with cardiac illness become moms, just click here.