In two years, Rebecca Lowrance has gone from the doorstep of death to the stairway of life. Thursday afternoon at Medical City DallasHospital, the 32-year-old gave birth to a perfect and beautiful baby girl – a joyous event that, in some ways, may seem unremarkable.But here's the thing about Lowrance.
In January 2008, perhaps days from death, the former kindergarten teacher from Chico, in Wise County, underwent heart-transplant surgery at Medical City.
AddisonNichole Lowrance was born Thursday at Medical City Dallas Hospital, where her mother received a heart transpant in 2008. The baby's middle name honors the donor whose heart saved her mother's life.
In the intervening weeks and months, she bounced back strong. Lowrance had an advantage over most heart-transplant patients; she was young and otherwise healthy.
She and her husband, Clint, were also optimistic.
During her first follow-up appointment with a cardiologist, they asked whether they could have a baby.
The answer was, "Maybe."
Pregnancy and childbirth are dicey propositions for transplant patients, because drugs they must take to keep them alive – immunosuppressants that prevent the body from rejecting the organ – can kill or deform a developing baby.
"This is a tricky thing and a potentially dangerous thing for the fetus," said Dr. Mark Lerman of Medical City, an expert in kidney disease and transplantation.
"There are just a few drugs that are effective for the mother but have a relatively low incidence of causing congenital morbidity or mortality."
Doctors believe Lowrance may be the first heart-transplant patient to have a baby in North Texas and one of perhaps only a hundred or so across the nation.
By 2007 – the latest figures available – there had been only 63 pregnancies among heart-transplant patients. About 70 percent were carried to term.
"This not a real common occurrence at all," said Lerman. "We think it's the first one in North Texas, and we're certain it's the first one at Medical City."
Even though, by definition, Lowrance's pregnancy was high-risk, her doctor, Mark Bernstein, said the pregnancy and birth came off without much of a hitch.
Addison Nichole Lowrance – whose middle name comes from her mother's heart donor – was born by Caesarean section a few minutes after noon Thursday, about two weeks early.
She weighed 6 pounds, 9 ounces, and was 19 inches long. Bernstein said she seems to be perfectly healthy.
"I worry about all my patients," he said. "But basically, her heart is as good as yours and mine. She's a healthy person."
Clint Lowrance said he'd watched his life come full circle – from a shell of a person to someone with more reason to live than ever.
"It's been an amazing experience to know where she was two years ago until now," he said. "It's unbelievable."
Looking down at her new baby Thursday night, Rebecca Lowrance struggled to put words to the emotion, too.
"She's just so perfect, she's just so beautiful," she said over and over. "We're so very blessed."