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Lilliam Moro’s story

Special to the Times | 2/20/2014, 9 a.m.
Lilliam Moro

Lilliam Moro, 67, believes God was guiding her when she titled her latest poetry book Obra Poética Casi Completa, or an “Incomplete Book of Poetry.” She felt in her heart that she wasn’t quite done writing poems.

In August 2013, 10 days after presenting her book at an event, the Cuban poet suffered a massive heart attack that left her in a coma for a month.

“I had gone out that day, and I started feeling nauseous so I returned home,” she said. “I then started vomiting. I was also feeling weak and disoriented and decided to call 911.”

Lilliam – who was diabetic, a smoker and had both high blood pressure and high cholesterol, – was immediately rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital. “It’s a true miracle that she’s alive,” said Cesar Mendoza, M.D., medical director of cardiology at Jackson Memorial. “After her arrival at the emergency room, Lilliam went into cardiac arrest 27 times before we opened her artery,” Dr. Mendoza said.

Throughout his career as a cardiologist, Dr. Mendoza has never resuscitated a patient as many times as he did Lilliam.

To treat her, Dr. Mendoza performed a minimally invasive procedure to implant a left ventricular device called “Impella.”

The device is so small that it can be inserted into the patient’s heart through a small catheter. A tiny puncture is made in the artery of the leg and the device is passed through until it reaches the heart.

“This device helps Lilliam’s heart pump oxygen-rich blood through her body,” he said.

Lilliam had the odds stacked against her, yet she survived the massive heart attack.

Dr. Mendoza says women should educate themselves about heart disease, which can be deadly.

“Women in general should take heart disease seriously and know the risk factors,” Dr. Mendoza said.

“There are a lot of lifestyle changes you can make to reduce those risks, including exercising, maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking and eating a diet that is low in saturated fat, cholesterol and salt.”

Lilliam has been greatly rewarded after learning a hard lesson from her previously unhealthy lifestyle and is now following her doctor’s advice. Her health and quality of life have improved tremendously.

“I’m so grateful to be alive. There’s a reason I didn’t die,” said Lilliam, who is currently working on a sequel to her poetry book.

She says she is forever grateful to Dr. Mendoza for saving her life.

“I consider him and the rest of the cardiology staff at Jackson my angels.”