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Media Spotlight: Clarks Summit Student Celebrates 21st Birthday with New Heart Valve

Lehigh Valley, Pa. (Feb. 3, 2016) - Lindsey Hannigan celebrated her 21st birthday on Jan. 29 at home in Clarks Summit (Pa), 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. She says the operation was done just in time, as her own valve had been leaking dangerously with each heartbeat over the past few months.

“I might not have reached 21 if I didn’t have the surgery,” Hannigan says.

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 says.  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.

Seeking the best care available, Hannigan’s mother, Laura, “did her homework,” researching hospitals and doctors in Pennsylvania. Mother and daughter concluded that LVH was their best choice. “It’s ranked number three in Pennsylvania by US News and World Report,” Lindsey says.

An appointment with Raymond Singer, MD, the hospital’s chief of cardiothoracic surgery confirmed to the Hannigans they’d made the right choice. Singer has the best valve surgery patient survival rates in Pennsylvania, according to the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council’s most recent cardiac surgery report. 

“He explained the surgery to us, told us about the valve options and answered our questions. He treated us like we were part of his family,” she says. “I had a sense of peace being with him.”

On Dec. 10, Singer removed her damaged, “native” valve and replaced it with one made of cow tissue so she wouldn’t need blood thinners that are needed with artificial valves.

Hannigan has started a cardiac rehabilitation program last week and is feeling better each day. She hears from Singer through texts and phone calls, and says “his compassion makes a world of difference.”

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. “If I can help someone going through what I experienced, it will all be worth it,” Hannigan says.

Lehigh Valley Health Network includes five hospital campuses - three in Allentown including the region's only facility dedicated to orthopedic surgery, one in Bethlehem and one in Hazleton, Pa.; 13 health centers caring for communities in five counties; numerous primary and specialty care physician practices throughout the region; pharmacy, imaging, home health services and lab services; and preferred provider services through Valley Preferred.   Specialty care includes: trauma care at the region’s busiest, most-experienced trauma center treating adults and children, burn care at the regional Burn Center, kidney and pancreas transplants; perinatal/neonatal, cardiac, cancer care, and neurology and complex neurosurgery capabilities including national certification as a Comprehensive Stroke Center.  Children’s Hospital at Lehigh Valley Hospital, the only children’s hospital in the region, provides care in 28 specialties and general pediatrics. Lehigh Valley Health Network has been recognized by US News & World Report for 20 consecutive years as one of America’s Best Hospitals and is a national Magnet hospital for excellence in nursing.  Lehigh Valley Health Network’s Cancer Center is the only cancer center in the region to have been selected as a National Cancer Center Community Cancer Centers Program (NCCCP, 2010-14). Additional information is available at lvhn.org and by following us on facebook.com/LVHealthNetwork and twitter.com/LVHN.

 

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