Greece mom, in heart failure last week, now making major progress

Greece mom with heart failure now making remarkable progress

Greece mom with heart failure now making remarkable progress

A local mother fighting for her life is making remarkable progress.

Exactly a week ago, we told you Sydney Pelusio needed a new heart or a miracle. Well, it looks like she got her miracle. The mom of two from Greece has shocked her doctors, as her heart has started working on its own again. 

Her family shared their story with News10NBC investigative reporter Jennifer Lewke on Friday of last week. Sydney Pelusio was a healthy, 32-year-old wife and mother. She got flu-like symptoms and within hours of going to urgent care, she was in total heart failure. She was put to the top of the transplant list.  

But now, it looks like she won’t need that heart after all. 

One week ago, the situation was bleak. 

“She’s in complete heart failure; she is on an ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation), which is a machine that is pumping the blood for her; she has a device in her left ventricle called an impella, which is emptying the blood from that ventricle into her aorta — that is keeping her alive,” Sue Vandervoort, Sydney’s mother, said last week.

But surrounded by her family and friends, and treated by a team of the area’s top heart doctors, Sydney has made miraculous progress.

“I think she’s finding a lot of internal strength — she does not want to die, she wants to grow old with her husband and her family, so she’s hell-bent and very determined,” said Stephanie Marquez, Sydney’s sister.

And her body is responding. Amazingly, Sydney underwent a five-hour surgery to have both the ECMO and impella removed from her body. Her heart is now functioning completely on its own — something doctors didn’t think possible just a week ago.

“She absolutely would have died if she stayed at home,” said Coniglio.

As we told you last week, Sydney initially went to an urgent care with flu-like symptoms. They sent her straight to Unity Hospital. Doctors at Unity actually had to revive her. Then, they rushed her to Dr. Amanda Coniglio.

“I was covering the cardiac intensive care unit at Rochester General Hospital at that time, and so, I was getting the phone calls about her.  So, we coordinated an urgent transfer of her over here, actually Dr. Hall rode in the ambulance with her to bring her over here to Rochester General,” Coniglio said.

And the team was ready. They got her on life support right away.

“Myocarditis, whatever the cause, is always a pretty significant diagnosis,” Coniglio said.

It’s triggered by a virus, and typically hits people under 50, who are otherwise healthy.

“It’s usually not because of the virus itself, it’s because your body develops an intense immune response to the virus that then your immune system goes on and attacks your heart,” Coniglio said.

So how would any of us know if we’re at risk?

“Most people have palpitations, where they feel abnormal heartbeats — as the heart gets more swollen and affected by your immune system, it does cause abnormal heart rhythms, which people can frequently feel.  I would say lightheadedness or dizziness are signs that you’re having low blood pressure or poor profusion; sometimes significant nausea is one of the big signs and symptoms,” Coniglio said.

Sydney was experiencing many of those symptoms by the time she got to urgent care.

“She’s really lucky that she got here in time, and really her story is incredible. This is the entire city of Rochester medical community coming together between urgent care, Unity Hospital, Rochester General Hospital putting her on full life support and saving her life,” Coniglio said.

Initially, RGH transferred her to Strong because that’s where they do heart transplants. Doctors thought a transplant would be the only way she would survive — but Sydney is a fighter and her family says it’s possible, if things stay on this path, that she will be able to get home to her children in the next few weeks.