Petal woman dies from rare illness

By Sheri Falk - bio | email | Twitter

PETAL, MS (WDAM) - Carolyn Jordans 22-year-old grandaughter, Lakeisha Nunley gave birth to her first child in September of 2007. By December, she would be dead.

Jordan was a healthy boy, and everything seemed well with Lakeisha until three months later.

"She said to me, 'Granny I'm hurting,'" remembered Jordans.  Lakeisha complained of chest pain, arm pain and back pain. "I said, 'Go to the emergency room.'"

Lakeisha went to an emergency room the following Monday where a nurse practioner explained her vital signs were good, so there was no reason for a doctor to see her, and she should just go home, take some Tylenol and make an appointment with her regular doctor.

By Tuesday evening Lakeisha still wasn't able to get an appointment with a doctor.

She said she felt better, but still hurt. At the same time, her family was dealing with an ailing aunt and were planning to meet the next day at another hospital to say final goodbyes.

Lakeisha had to go to work on Wednesday, and her grandmother remembers her coming over at 5 a.m. to drop off her baby.

"I said, 'Keisha are you ok?" said Jordans. Lakiesha told her she was going to go ahead and go to work. On Wednesday night, when she came to Forrest General to see her aunt, she collapsed.

Doctors were unable to revive her, and she died in the hospital's waiting room.

Caroyln said she remembers very little about that day, and months after her death an autopsy report showed Lakeisha died from peripartum cardiomyopathy.

Eric Enger a local cardiologist explained the disoirder was a rare disease pregnant women sometimes develop.

"Cardiomyopathy is the deterioration of the pump function, the heart's not able to meet the demands of the vital organs in the body,"  said Enger. "A small percentage of pregnant women  develop this disease within the last month of pregnancy or in the first five months after giving birth. Usually the patient will complain of shortness of breath, difficulty catching their breath while lying down, or minimal activities causing shortness of breath; swelling in the ankles is a common complaint."

Lakeisha experienced those same symptoms during the end of her pregancy and after giving birth, said Jordans.

Doctors don't know what causes pregnant women to develop this disease, but they treat it the same as any other type of congestive heart failure with diuetics, beta blockers and ACE inhibitors.

According to her grandmother and the medical records, no one ever informed Lakiesha of the disease or tested her for it.

Jordans hopes women can learn from her daughter's death.

"I have gone through extensive therapy and counseling to try to deal with this, and I've gotten to the point now that I'm not bitter towards the people that i felt were negligent with her." said Jordans. "My thing now is to let people know that this exists and they won't have to experience what I have."

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