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Heart Surgery, Followed by Childbirth

Donet Teimourian Is Celebrating Her First Valentine’s Day as a Mother After Undergoing Surgery to Repair Her Congenital Heart Defect

Valentine’s Day is a little sweeter this year for first-time mother Donet Teimourian, 33, who gave birth to son Roman at Cedars-Sinai in September.

A little more than a year ago, Teimourian's dreams of motherhood had been just that—a dream—until her Smidt Heart Institute team repaired her congenital heart defect, ultimately preparing her for a healthy pregnancy, delivery and baby.

“Love has a whole new meaning this year,” said Teimourian, a hair and makeup artist from Studio City. “Marrying my husband was the best decision of my life and now, having a mini version of him as my son, it’s truly incredible. I am obsessed with both of them!”

It is, in fact, incredible, said Rose Tompkins, MD, who provided medical care for Teimourian throughout her heart journey.

“But these are the types of miracles and success stories we help create,” said Tompkins, associate director of the Adult Congenital Heart Program in the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai. “There’s nothing better than a love story between a mother and her child.”

Teimourian's journey to motherhood hasn’t been easy or conventional.

Teimourian was born in Iran, where it took doctors more than a year to diagnose her congenital heart defect. When Teimourian’s parents learned of the condition, they packed up their lives and moved to Germany in search of better medical care.

At just 18 months, Teimourian underwent her first open-heart surgery and then, just days before her 12th birthday, underwent a second.

Her family then moved to California to be closer to family, where she has resided since. But after transitioning out of care at a local children’s hospital at age 19, Teimourian went virtually untreated until she turned 27.

“One of the most beautiful things about our congenital heart program is that patients never transition out,” said Evan Zahn, MD, director of the Guerin Family Congenital Heart Program. “We quite literally treat patients from in utero over the course of their entire lives, ensuring a continuum of care that is unmatched and most importantly, a lifelong trusted relationship between a patient and their care team.”

This lifelong relationship and care between a patient and their congenital heart team is increasingly important for those like Teimourian who are transitioning into adulthood and beginning to take sole ownership of their medical care.

During the time she went untreated, Teimourian’s mother died from breast cancer.

“I let myself and my health go, paying little to no attention to my heart condition,” said Teimourian.

But shortly after getting married and losing her mother, Teimourian had a wake-up call, knowing it was time to find a medical team who could prepare her for pregnancy. Her general cardiologist referred her to Tompkins and Zahn.

“When I met Donet, she had been given a green light to conceive a child,” said Tompkins. “But after further examination by our team of experts, we identified extreme narrowing and blockages in her pulmonary artery. Pregnancy would have put far too much pressure and stress on an already struggling heart.”

Under Tompkins' medical guidance, Teimourian underwent a minimally invasive, catheter-based heart procedure performed by Zahn to repair her pulmonary valve and artery. The procedure, while complex, was a success.

After six months of recovery, including several follow-up appointments and an unrelated infection that landed Teimourian in the hospital for a week, Tompkins gave her the green light she had been hoping for.

“Before we knew it, we were pregnant,” said Teimourian. “It was quite a surprise and a huge, huge blessing.”

Morning sickness aside, Teimourian’s health—and the health of her unborn son—flourished. Today, the new mother is soaking up every moment as a family of three, while embracing the chaos and challenges of first-time parenting.

“Through becoming a mother, I learned that you can’t love anyone or anything until you love yourself—and take care of yourself,” said Teimourian. “It’s only when you are healthy that you can share your life and love with those around you.”

Read more from the Cedars-Sinai Blog: Matters of the Heart: Rose Tompkins, MD