In August, 2008 a Florida woman named April Pinkard told her surgery story to a local newspaper. The headline read, “The Woman Whose Heart Was in the Wrong Place” and the story focused on Ms. Pinkard’s rare heart condition. Well, rare conditions call for rare solutions and the one chosen for her by surgeons at the Jacksonville Mayo Clinic is nothing short of that.
Three years prior to the story, during what was probably a routine medical exam, her doctor revealed something terribly strange. She recalls “he listened [for] my heartbeat one day and it just wasn’t there.” Further inspections led doctors to conclude that her heart had shifted, into an open area that her lung once occupied. Ms. Pinkard once suffered from a congenital lung disease, prompting the removal of one lung at age 4. Over the course of about 30 years of life, her heart became mobile – apparently an unintended consequence of the lung removal.
Her condition was critical. To save her life, doctors had to operate quickly.
Dr. Choudhury referred her to the Mayo Clinic, where surgeons opened her up, “filled her chest cavity with water and floated it into the correct position.” To prevent further movement of the heart, they placed breast implants in her chest, to fill the void left by her missing lung. She tells reporters “you can hear it move. If I push on my chest you can feel the squishes.”
She still faces some health issues, like the possibility of a lung transplant sometime in the future. But Pinkard is strong willed and has a very positive outlook about the whole experience. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have such talented medical professionals on her side.