21-Year-Old College Student Literally Dances Her Heart Out

Dancer Mia Welch Bridged to Heart Transplant with SynCardia Total Artificial Heart

Last fall, 21-year-old Mia Welch took the phrase “dancing your heart out” to a whole new level. It all began in summer 2010, when she was attending Mesa Community College and dancing 14 hours a week with the school’s summer dance company.

“During our summer showcase, every time I did a dance, I was exhausted, which wasn’t normal for me,” said Mia. “I had to walk around with my arms above my head, taking deep breaths. I was having a lot of pain in the right side of my ribs and it wasn’t going away. I figured it was just a muscle pull.”

A week later, when the pain hadn’t subsided, Mia went to the emergency room, but was turned away after being told “an ER is for life and death situations.”

A few weeks later, the pain had worsened, her appetite had disappeared and she could only sleep sitting upright. After a visit to a different emergency room, a CAT scan revealed that her heart was enlarged.

“I was in the hospital room by myself when my doctor came in and told me that my heart was failing,” said Mia. “It was the scariest thing I’ve ever heard… I thought, ‘I’m going to die.’ ”

Mia’s doctors immediately put her on medication hoping to reverse her heart failure because of her young age. However, over the next two months, Mia’s 5’5, 150-pound frame had shrunk by 50 pounds. In February 2011, she developed blood clots in her kidneys and was placed on blood thinners. That June, she was implanted with a defibrillator.

In October 2011, Mia had a right heart catheterization done to check the pressures in her heart. The results showed Mia’s heart had further deteriorated and she was admitted to the hospital. The doctors told her mother they needed to find her a donor heart by the next day, or else she would need a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) or the SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart to survive… read more at SynCardia.com

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