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Dora's Story

Cardiomyopathy

Portrait of Dora

Dora loves to walk around her Germantown neighborhood, and even three miles up Germantown Avenue all the way to Chestnut Hill. Eight years ago, when breathing during those walks started to become a real struggle for her, she went to see her family doctor.

Her cardiologist diagnosed her with cardiomyopathy, a condition in which enlarged heart muscle makes it harder for the heart to pump blood to the rest of the body; it can lead to heart failure. When it came to her heart, however, Dora wanted a second opinion from doctors at a hospital that she knew specialized in cardiac care—so  she went to Temple. “I’ve been there ever since,” she says.

Dora’s Temple cardiologists treated her with medications, which worked well for years. But eventually she began feeling short of breath whenever she increased her walking pace or went up a flight of stairs. She also often felt a burning sensation in her chest.

I’ve been given a new life.

Dora

Her Temple Heart and Vascular Institute physicians recommended surgery, but for months, concerned about having any kind of operation on her heart, she put it off. But finally, she realized it was the best option. So in February 2015, Temple Heart and Vascular Institute surgeons performed a minimally invasive surgery that only a few hospitals in the country offer to repair her heart.

Dora exercising

Dora now enjoys exercising, talking long walks, and playing with her grandchildren.

“I got such a great understanding of the operation and I felt good about having it,” says Dora. “It was an absolutely fantastic move. The surgeons were absolutely great and the care was wonderful.

“I’m so happy that my fears did not keep me away from it. I’ve been given a new life.”

Her recovery was quick. “It’s actually mind blowing,” she says. “Shortly after the surgery I swear I felt like I was 20 years old. Both in my body and my mind, I just felt so brand new.

To test herself, shortly after her surgery Dora, who is now 66, took the long walk up to the shops in Chestnut Hill and back.

Dora also walks often with her grandchildren—she has eight, and one great-grandchild—and frequently spends three hours a day at her local gym. “When I first walked on the elliptical trainer at the gym, I had to look in the mirror to believe that it was actually me,” she says. “I became emotional and teary eyed and just thanked my Temple surgeons. It was absolutely wonderful.”

See more stories including:

Cardiomyopathy Inherited Cardiomyopathy and Cardiac Genetics Program