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A second chance at life

Stacie Buckley, a married mother of two, started seeing a cardiologist when she turned 40.

“I discovered I had a heart murmur in my 20s,” says Buckley. “And when I turned 40, I started going to the cardiologist annually to get checked out.” 

For several years, Buckley’s heart looked great. But when she turned 45, doctors discovered a serious problem.

“I was at a high risk for either passing out at an inopportune time or even worse, going into cardiac arrest,” Buckley says. “I knew I needed surgery, but when I heard the doctor say those words, I completely lost it.”

Though she was petrified, Buckley scheduled the surgery to have her aortic valve replaced.

“I was in the hospital for six days,” says Buckley. “And after a couple of months, I was doing really well. I thought, ‘This is fantastic.’ But then I got sick.”

Buckley began to develop rashes all over her body, and she was extremely fatigued.

“At that point in time, I was septic,” says Buckley. “I was extremely anemic, and they were pretty certain I had bacterial endocarditis in my heart.  I ended up staying in the hospital for nine days.”

A few months later, Buckley noticed a strange sensation in her face. After scheduling an MRI, doctors discovered she had suffered two strokes.

“The growth from the bacterial endocarditis on my heart was sloughing off because of the antibiotics,” says Buckley. “Two pieces went into my blood stream and ended up going to my brain.”

Due to the severity of the situation, Buckley’s cardiologist, Jyoti Sharma, M.D., recommended a second valve replacement procedure.

“I was so sad and full of despair over the idea that I had to go through all of this again,” Buckley says.  “I had to relearn how to breathe. I had to relearn how to walk. I had to relearn how to run. I had to relearn how to live. The idea of facing it again just made me tired.”

But Buckley pushed through the fear. And now, six months after her second surgery, she is strong, energetic and happy to be alive.

“I'm trying my best to let the people in my life know how much I love them, because I realize what a privilege that is,” says Buckley. “If I hadn't gotten monitored, I think I would have been the person who you hear about at the grocery store who keels over and no one knew why. If there's a silver lining from everything that I went through, it's that I am more grateful for the little things.”   

To learn more about the Marcus Heart Valve Center, check out our website.

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