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Woman celebrates Mother's Day with newborn daughter after heart attack, surgery

Christina Mata was referred to Texas Children's Hospital during her pregnancy after a previous heart attack in 2021 weakened her heart.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Mother's Day is a special day to honor and appreciate mothers for what they do for their families every day. However, for one mother, she almost didn't get a chance to be one.

Thanks to the tireless efforts of Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, a Corpus Christi woman is able to celebrate Mother's Day with her newborn daughter.

Christina Mata was referred to Texas Children's Hospital during her pregnancy. After a previous heart attack in 2021 weakened her heart, doctors supported her to keep her and the baby alive.

"Whenever I got pregnant, that's whenever it got worse," Mata said.

Christina Mata started to show symptoms of heart issues during pregnancy. She was admitted to the hospital on January 7, having the baby later that month. 

Doctors said keeping her healthy was the priority while minimizing the chances of anything bad happening to the baby. 

Dr. Peter Ermis, medical director of Texas Children’s Hospital's Adult Congenital Heart Program, spoke with 3NEWS and said, "Her heart, in general at times, wasn't able to really even support her. There were definitely risks to the baby."

After the baby was delivered prematurely, she was treated in a neonatal intensive care unit. Shortly after giving birth, Mata had complications that overwhelmed her heart. 

A second heart attack required a cardiopulmonary bypass, putting her on life support. She was fully supported for about a week after the operation, and Dr. Peter Ermis was there for a special moment afterward.

"I was there when they were actually able to bring the baby up and into her room and she was able to interact with her, her, her child for the first time, and I think that just, you know, in a nutshell, makes it all, all so worthwhile, what we were able to do," Ermis said.

For Mata, support from everyone involved meant everything. She was in the hospital for about two months and said the thought of losing the baby never crossed her mind. 

"Just knowing that everybody was there praying for us, praying for me and my baby, it meant a lot, and everything that the doctors had did, everything that they could have done, they helped a lot," Mata explained.

Doctors told Mata they do not recommend she have another kid because of the potential risks, but she said she is grateful for the one she has. 

She explained the feeling of walking out of the hospital after everything that happened.

"It was scary," she said. "But I felt relieved because I made it."

She now gets to celebrate Mother's Day with 3-month-old Sylvia and her husband Juan. She said her daughter has since been taken to a cardiologist in Corpus Christi and is doing well. 

"She got discharged a little bit after I did but it was, when she got discharged too it was the greatest feeling ever because we finally get to be a family and we finally get to be home," Mata said.

She added that her health has improved, too.

When she was first discharged, she had to wear a vest that would track her heart and send information to her doctors. Fortunately, she doesn't need it anymore. She will follow-up with a cardiologist later this month.

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