A Metro Detroit mother has relied on a mechanical heart pump for years while she’s waited to get on the organ transplant list.
She said she knows a lot of people have lost their mothers during the pandemic and, while she waits for a heart transplant, she feels especially fortunate to be home with her family.
“It means the world to me to be able to be with my children and my husband this Mother’s Day,” said Tiara Johnson who was diagnosed with COVID-19 while waiting for a heart transplant.
Johnson was diagnosed with heart failure a few years ago when she was pregnant with her youngest. Doctors said being diagnosed with heart failure during pregnancy is incredibly rare.
“Having heart failure and I did have a few complications with my lungs. Following my open heart surgery I was just really worried about the respiratory aspects and how that would affect my heart,” said Johnson.
“It’s scary because we don’t know what to what to expect, we have no backup option,” said Dr. Reema Hasan, a University of Michigan doctor.
Hasan is a part of Johnson’s medical team at the University of Michigan.
“We were never prepared right for how COVID is gonna affect patients with heart failure and remarkably our experience has been really well,” said Hasan.
Johnson is recovering from COVID-19 and urging others to take precautions.
“When you have underlying health conditions. You have to be super super careful and even though I tried, I still contracted COVID,” Johnson said. “I just want people to take it seriously.”
She’s waiting to get on an organ transplant list and it could take years before she can get a new heart.
“Cherish the little things. The drawing, the movie time, the going to the park. You’re gonna need to hold on to in those moments when you’re in the hospital,” said Johnson.
“As a mother, and then to take care of mothers, I will do anything for these mothers to be with their children on Mother’s Day,” Dr. Hasan said. “I’m so happy Tara can be there this Sunday at home healthy and able to spend the day with them.”
For Mother’s Day -- and year round -- Johnson says it’s vital women listen to their bodies.
“As a woman, we want to put our cape on. And you know, we want to save everyone and we want to do everything for everybody and sometimes we have to take a step back and take care of ourselves first,” said Johnson.