By Kathy Walsh
AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – A young mother from Colorado Springs wants to raise awareness about a rare and complicated disease.
She has pulmonary hypertension, a type of high blood pressure of the lungs. It nearly killed her.
She had been healthy and energetic. That all changed after she delivered her second baby.
“All my organs were shutting down,” said Danielle Soto.
It was May 2016. Soto had given birth to her second child, Haven. When she got home from the hospital, she was extremely exhausted, had migraines and was short of breath.
“I had to consciously think about taking one breath,” said the 25-year-old Soto.
Her doctor suspected anemia or postpartum depression. But a cardiologist in Colorado Springs diagnosed pulmonary hypertension, high blood pressure of the lungs.
“Over time, that can lead to failure of the right side of the heart,” explained pulmonary disease specialist Dr. David Badesch.
Soto was rushed to the University of Colorado Hospital and the care of Dr. Badesch, head of the Pulmonary Hypertension Program at the University of Colorado, one of the leading research centers for the disease in the world.
“I think if she had not received attention within a couple of days or so she might not have survived,” Badesch said.
Soto now has medicine delivered intravenously to her heart 24/7. Pulmonary hypertension is treatable, but not curable.
“Not curable at this point, but that’s something that a lot of people are working on,” said Badesch.
Life may never be the same for Soto. She says her husband, Sean, and kids, Nico and Haven, keep her going.
“But I do have those days where it’s tough,” said Soto as she wiped away tears, “I’m just, I’m focusing on school and my kids.”
The cause of Soto’s pulmonary hypertension is unknown. Researchers at CU and elsewhere are looking into whether hormonal changes, like pregnancy and childbirth, play a role in the development of the disease.
Soto and others combating this disease are participating in a walk that raises money for pulmonary hypertension patients at University of Colorado Hospital called PH in the Park. It takes place on Aug. 27 at Denver’s City Park from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Click here to register.