Chinese mother who defied doctors has lung transplant, heart surgery 11 days after giving birth
Woman with congenital condition was warned not to proceed with pregnancy, and surgeon says he carried out high-risk operations with ‘heavy heart’
A 42-year-old woman who ignored doctors’ warnings that she had “zero” chance of surviving childbirth is recovering at home in eastern China after having a lung transplant and heart surgery just 11 days after her baby boy was born.
Wu Meng left the hospital in Wuxi, Jiangsu province with her newborn on Friday last week, two months after she gave birth, according to Science and Technology Daily.
In a rare and high-profile case, the reporter – who has a congenital heart condition and relies on a ventilator – was told she would not live for more than four years when she was diagnosed five years ago, according to the report on Wednesday.
After writing a book about her illness, Wu documented her pregnancy online, gave media interviews about her case and told followers that her success would inspire other women like her.
While her supporters have hailed the case as a miracle, a surgeon at the hospital said he had performed the high-risk operations with “a heavy heart” and advised others with Eisenmenger’s syndrome – in which there is a hole between two chambers of the heart – not to put their lives in danger in the same way.
Surgeon Chen Jingyu, deputy head of Wuxi People’s Hospital, said the doctors felt they had been emotionally blackmailed into treating Wu because the case was so high-profile, according to the report.
Wu had been advised not to proceed with the pregnancy at the early stage and was warned of a “zero survival rate”, but she insisted on going ahead with it.
After Wu left hospital, Chen posted a statement on his Weibo microblog account, saying he had carried out the surgery “with a heavy heart”.
“Medicine is science – willpower cannot drive changes in a syndrome. Wu Meng, 42, refused to listen to doctors’ advice about her pregnancy and insisted on giving birth, making high-profile announcements online about the decision and nearly walking a path of no return,” Chen wrote.
He said Wu had been admitted to the Wuxi hospital with heart failure in May, and she had signed a liability consent form acknowledging that it was her decision to go ahead with the birth and surgery even though she had been advised to terminate the pregnancy.
“To give the baby a chance at having a mother – and guided by ethics – I led the team of doctors to perform these operations that carried huge risks,” Chen said, adding that the decision was taken after discussions with many other specialists.
Wu had a caesarean section in the middle of June and was put on a life support machine. Still relying on it 11 days later, she had a lung transplant, followed by an operation to close the hole in her heart. Her newborn son, meanwhile, was kept in intensive care for two months.
In his statement, Chen said that in other countries, a patient like Wu would most likely have no option but to take doctors’ advice and terminate the pregnancy, adding that the new mother had agreed, once she recovered, to publicly talk about the dangers she had faced as a warning to others.
Chen and the hospital declined a request for comment on the case.