By Kathy Walsh

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4)– A single mother of two had to have her heart stopped in order to get it functioning normally. After struggling with breathing for years, Stacy Stucky traveled from her home in Kansas to Colorado for the highly specialized surgery.

Stacy Stucky (credit: CBS)

The active 47-year-old believes the doctors at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital were the answer to her prayers.

“If I was not on the road biking, running or swimming, I was asleep,” Stacy told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.

Stacy has run all sorts of races. She has tackled obstacle courses. But 2 years ago, She could hardly breathe.

“I started feeling pain in my chest and pressure,” she said.

(credit: CBS)

She was treated for asthma and allergies, but got worse. In 2018, she learned she had chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH).

“I had blood clots in both my lungs,” she explained.

Stacy didn’t want a sedentary life, so the Kansas mother and teacher came to UCHealth and pulmonologist Dr. Peter Hountras.

“That’s where the clots were,” Hountras said referring to Stacy’s CT scan.

Dr. Peter Hountras (left) (credit: CBS)

The clots were obstructing blood flow and affecting Stacy’s heart.

“Her heart was not able to keep up with what her body wanted to do,” said Hountras.

Stacy opted for a complex open heart surgery called pulmonary thromboendarterectomy (PTE). Hountras says UCHealth is the only hospital in the region now offering the procedure.

(credit: CBS)

“It was very intimidating to know they would stop my heart, restart it, cool my body, have me on a bypass machine,” Stacy said.

On March 19, cardiac and thoracic surgeons removed the clots.

“She did absolutley amazing,” said Hountras.

(credit: Stacy Stucky)

In August, Stacy ran “PH in the Park” in Denver, a 5K raising money for research on pulmonary hypertension.

Hountras said with blood thinners, Stacy should remain clot free.

“I’m very grateful,” said Stacy.

Her goal is to get back to running her life the way she loves and to tackling new obstacles.

Kathy Walsh

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