Finding Doctors Who Could Save Her Life and Her Baby


Joy Lauver was eight months pregnant when she traveled from Altoona to West Penn Hospital to save her baby’s life, and her own. 

Joy, 33, arrived at West Penn Hospital with a failing heart and an advanced pregnancy. She has pulmonary hypertension, which, combined with her pregnancy, endangered her life and the baby’s. The condition restricts blood flow from the heart to the lungs.

Earlier that day, Joy’s physician in Altoona said her condition was threatening her heart, and advised her to get help at Allegheny Health Network (AHN) in Pittsburgh, two-and-half hours away.

Joy was taken straight into intensive care where a heart-assist pump was on standby.

Difficult choices
Doctors administered medications to stabilize her condition, trying to delay the baby’s arrival until she was stronger. A Cesarean delivery was not an option, because Joy’s platelet count was too low for local anesthesia and general anesthesia can be fatal in women with pulmonary hypertension. Joy has another child at home, so preserving her life was essential.

Medical experts from cardiology, pulmonology, maternal fetal medicine, hematology, and neonatology came together to save Joy and her baby.

Joy fought for four more days until she was healthy enough to hold her son, Wyatt for the first time.

Newborn, new life
Wyatt was born Feb. 19, 2017, seven weeks early, weighing 4 pounds, 6 ounces, but healthy. Over the next few days he progressed well.

Joy also survived the critical 72 hours after birth, recovering enough to hold her son just four days later. She and Wyatt are #living proof that with a whole team pitching in, miracles are still possible.

To find a specialist, call (412) DOCTORS. For a same-day appointment, call between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m.  

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