Patient Stories
Patient Stories

Samantha Biel

Heart Surgery Helps a Young Dancer Keep Her Rhythm on Beat

Samantha loved to dance her whole life. She was used to being active, but when she was a freshman in college, she noticed a change in how she felt after rehearsals. But during rehearsals, she started to notice unusual symptoms.

“Luckily my doctor was wonderful. I'm sitting there in ER and my heart rate is so elevated because I'm so anxious. He just looks at me and says, ‘I’m not freaking out, and I know exactly what's happening to you. You don't need to be scared.’”

“I was in rehearsal with my choir. We just finished warming up and I'd been sitting on the ground. I just popped up real quick, and my heart started pounding. Didn't make sense for my heart to be pounding, and it wouldn't stop.”

Samantha initially brushed it off, but her symptoms then started to get worse. She started experiencing migraines and fatigue. During Christmas break, she visited her physician at Springfield Clinic and was equipped with a Holter monitor. Shortly afterward, her doctor called and asked her to meet him at the Memorial Medical Center ER.

“When they insisted that I come into the ER, I was really freaked out. They checked me out. They looked at my charts and gave me a diagnosis.”

Samantha was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect. She was given two options for treatment: medication or a surgical procedure called cardiac ablation. It was a lot for 20-year-old Samantha to process.

“I was thinking, "This is my heart. This is the thing that makes my body function at all. It's the reason I'm alive. I'm scared of letting them mess with it and mess with the rhythm of it. What if it doesn't work? What if something goes wrong? It's my heart."

After a few days, Samantha and her family made a decision to have the surgery. The decision came after meeting with her cardiologist, who reassured her that she was in good hands at Memorial.

“Luckily my doctor was wonderful. I'm sitting there in ER and my heart rate is so elevated because I'm so anxious. He just looks at me and says, ‘I’m not freaking out, and I know exactly what's happening to you. You don't need to be scared.’”

The surgery was a complete success. The team at Memorial quickly repaired Samantha’s heart, getting her back to the things she loves. Even while in recovery, Samantha noticed a newfound sense of peace she hadn’t felt in years.

“My resting heart rate I noticed was lower than I had seen it in years. Just a sort of feeling of peace came with that, that my body wasn't in a constant anxiety mode anymore.”

Details