Life changes in a heartbeat for Uniondale resident


Uniondale resident Megan Gomez was lying down after a workout on May 5 last year. In one week, she would be getting married. In a few months, she would be a first-time mother.

She felt a pressure on her chest.

“Like an elephant sitting on me,” she said.

She was gasping for air.

The expecting mother was experiencing acute heart failure.

At Long Island Jewish Hospital in Hew Hyde Park, Gomez learned she would need a mitral valve balloon valvuloplasty; a procedure necessary for the safety of her and the baby.

“Before this whole situation happened,” Gomez said. “I never had any inkling of any heart issues. (I found out), I developed it due to an illness that I got when I was younger that went untreated and then this developed because of that. That’s what’s even scarier.”

She was diagnosed with mitral stenosis, a heart valve condition, which most likely developed from a bad case of strep when she was younger.

Despite the hospital stay, Gomez and her now-husband, Johnathon were determined not to miss their special day.

“With my husband and I, we’ve just been through a lot and we weren’t going to let this stop it,” Gomez said. “We’re going to have it done one way or another. And we knew we just loved each other that much.”

Father Robert, a hospital chaplain, came to the cardiac critical care unit and officiated an impromptu ceremony on May 10 of last year. Those in attendance included the intensive care unit team.

“Dr. Sarah from the ICU gave me her white coat kind of covered up her name to act as a dress.” Gomez recalled. “Then, I used a pillowcase as a veil. They put my hair in some flowers and flowers in my hands as well.”

The hospital cafeteria made the newlyweds a wedding cake.

Dr. Avneet Singh, one day later, performed the procedure successfully.

Gomez and her husband are now parents of eight-month-old daughter Rose.

This May, the Long Island Jewish Hospital invited Gomez, invited the family to celebrate Mother’s Day and the couple’s first wedding anniversary, with the medical team that helped her during her time at the hospital.

“We wanted to celebrate it with them, just because they were the ones that were able to get us to this point in our life right now,” Gomez said. “It was kind of just surreal, being able to celebrate with the people that were a part of it.”

“There is nothing that could bring us more pleasure – three days before Mother’s Day – than to welcome back our patient who is now able to celebrate the joyous occasions of her life” said Nisha Parikh, MD, director of the Women’s Heart program for Northwell Health’s Cardiovascular Institute and the Katz Institute for Women’s Health in a news release Northwell Health.

When her daughter gets older, Gomez said she would explain her experience to Rose and the happiness it brought her:

I’ll say “that you are the miracle baby that gave mom realization that she had heart issues,” she said.

In a news release, Johnathon commented, “We are so grateful to everyone here for all the work that was done to give us the wonderful blessing of our baby, We do consider her a blessing in disguise…had Megan not become pregnant, it’s quite possible that this condition might not have been discovered till it became much more dangerous.”

Gomez knows that first-hand that life can change in a heartbeat.

“It’s crazy that it’s been a year already, honestly, for both the wedding and the surgery, just because they are going to forever fall around the same time,” she said. “I don’t want to dwell on the past, I look for the future.”

Gomez has another surgery scheduled for later this year.

One thing that keeps her grounded is the love for her daughter.

“It’s like, I never knew love until like, I saw her,” she said. “The way I love her right now … I don’t know if anything compared to it.”