Stefania received her heart transplant at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in
August 2008, she and her husband were already hoping to be parents. Only
16 months after her transplant, she delivered twin girls.
“I wanted a transplant because it meant I could have children,”
said Stefania, who had a rare heart condition known as restrictive cardiomyopathy
that results in a stiffening of the heart muscle and eventually results
in heart failure.
“Stefania was in uncharted waters,”said David Baran, MD, transplant
cardiologist. “Worldwide, there have been only 39 reported pregnancies
after heart transplant. The birth of these two healthy babies was due
to the extraordinary multidisciplinary team of specialists in heart transplant,
high-risk pregnancy and neonatolgy who worked together to protect the
lives of both the mother and infants,” he stressed.
Fortunately, Stefania is part of a unique clinical trial being conducted
only at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. She takes just one immunosuppressive
medication- Prograf- to prevent organ rejection, while heart transplant
recipients at other centers take three medications. Unlike other immunosuppressive
drugs, Prograf is less likely to cause birth defects.
Director of Maternal and Fetal Medicine Munir Nazir, MD, closely managed
the progress of the twins throughout their gestation. He diagnosed the
rare and potentially fatal twin-twin fetal transfusion syndrome just in
time to refer Stefania to another highly specialized center where a laser
procedure was performed
in utero to ensure proper blood supply to both twins. Melania and Natalia, were
born at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center six weeks early due to this syndrome.
“Her heart was rock solid throughout the pregnancy and continues
to be healthy,” said Dr. Baran. “I told Dr. Nazir he could
be comfortable doing whatever was necessary in the course of the birth,
that her heart was strong.”