Rare artery condition afflicts Salem womanSALEM — It’s been an emotional ride for Patti Deters over the last few months. In January, she nearly died due to a blood clot on a heart valve she had replaced in 2010.
By: Anna Jauhola, The Daily Republic
SALEM — It’s been an emotional ride for Patti Deters over the last few months.
In January, she nearly died due to a blood clot on a heart valve she had replaced in 2010.
She was flown by plane to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., to undergo her third open heart surgery.
“I went to the Heart Hospital in Sioux Falls and the next morning I had trouble, and they said they had the plane ready in 20 minutes,” Deters said, choking up.
Deters, 52, was born with congenitally corrected transposition of the great arteries.
In other words, the aorta, or large artery, and the pulmonary artery were reversed during fetal development. The arteries have functioned properly until recent years. According to the Mayo Clinic’s website, this is a rare defect and isn’t commonly found until adulthood.
Deters was diagnosed with the defect in 2000. While at work as a restorative nurse’s aide at Golden Living Center in Salem, her blood pressure spiked to 200/100 — 120/80 is considered normal.
She was taken by ambulance to the Avera Heart Hospital because she thought she was having a heart attack. She was 39 at the time. Her blood pressure was back to normal at the hospital and she was sent home.
She revisited the Heart Hospital to undergo tests and was diagnosed. She then visited the Mayo Clinic, where doctors who specialize in Deters’ condition examined her.
Doctors watched her condition closely to make sure the valve didn’t leak too much. She visited Rochester on a regular basis for a few years and eventually was able to just visit the Heart Hospital in Sioux Falls for regular checkups.
In 2009, she began having more troubles, so she was again sent to the Mayo Clinic because the smaller valve was leaking too much, a common problem with her condition. During the first operation, the surgeon put a ring around the artery, Deters said. But the ring was too tight and caused problems.
“The surgeon said he was going to replace the artery to begin with,” Deters said. “But then he just thought he could fix it. That didn’t last too long.”
After that first surgery in August 2009, Deters underwent a second surgery in May 2010 to replace the smaller valve.
In late 2011, Deters again had troubles with wheezing and constant colds and was back at the Heart Hospital. In January, she was rushed to the Mayo Clinic for her third surgery.
“I look at it as I’m starting over again,” Deters said with a shaking voice. “Third time’s a charm. I really don’t want to do any more with it, but I don’t know what my future holds.”
Deters and her husband, Jeff, now face financial struggles with mounting medical and travel bills.
Deters said they do have health insurance and just paid off the deductible for her first surgery. They have yet to start paying on each deductible for the May 2010 and January 2012 surgeries.
Deters’ friends and co-workers at Golden Living Center have organized a fundraiser to be held Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at St. Mary’s Hall at 300 W. Vermont Ave. in Salem. The Order of Catholic Foresters is sponsoring the breakfast, which will be served by the McCook Central FFA.
Deters is thankful for the generosity her friends in Salem have shown her and her family. She said it’s difficult to sit back and watch a benefit being organized for her.
“Usually I’m on the other end,” she said with a laugh.
Deters is taking her rehabilitation day-by-day. She travels to Mitchell three times a week for cardiac rehab at Avera Queen of Peace Hospital. Her four children, who live in Salem, Montrose, Sioux Falls and Vermillion, and her husband are having a hard time watching her recuperate.
“But I’m on track,” she said.
Her brother, Doug Lauck, and sister-in-law, Angie, live in Mitchell and serve as a part of her support system.
“She’s tough,” Doug Lauck said. “She has to be. She has seven brothers. We’re here to help.”