MILTON, Ga. - After nearly dying last year, a Milton teen has made a full recovery. She says it is thanks to medical staff at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta who identified several blood clots around her lungs.
Jenna Marlow was just like any other 17-year-old. She looked forward to going to school, having a social life, and playing sports.
"I’ve never even broken a bone, I’ve never been to the hospital, I’ve never gotten an IV before in my life," she said.
All that came to a stop in May of last year when an unknown genetic condition, four blood clots, and a reaction to her oral contraception caused her heart to stop.
"I started feeling this immense pressure in my chest and rapid heart rate that never slowed down. I didn’t know what it was…I laid low, I didn’t hang out with my friends that week, I tried to rest every chance that I could," she said.
Critical care Dr. Heather Viamonte, who led the team caring for Jenna, said it was the result of pulmonary embolism.
"There’s two sides to the heart—the right side and the left side—and the right side was basically failing," she stated.
Viamonte said medical staff worked quickly to treat the blood clots but the problem didn’t go away.
"Her heart was having to work 100 times as hard as it normally would in order to push blood out…she had a cardiac arrest and then her heart stopped," she explained.
Doctors used an ECMO machine, which they said was the key to a good outcome in Jenna’s case.
"I told her later, that in that moment, ‘I was not going to let you die’…I was not going to do it and every force of will I had came into that situation," Viamonte said.
A little over a year later, Jenna and her family are still regular visitors at Children’s, but for a different reason.
They’ve dedicated themselves to volunteering with the hospital’s Kids at Heart program to help other families in similar situations.
"We just really wanted to find ways to help families there as well so we decided to give meals and also donating toys for the kids," she said.
Jenna is now a healthy 19-year-old college student at the University of Miami. She said she still experiences some numbness in her leg and has some scars from the operations, but they are just a reminder of what she survived.