Elias Gatos, M.D.
Surgeon Gynecologist – Obstetrician
Scientific Director emBIO Assisted Reproduction Unit

A mother…with a heart of her own

“Sofia’s will overcame my objections”– Elias Gatos

A mother…with a heart of her own

The name of Sofia Adam, of Greek origin, is typically referred to by the famous heart surgeon Yacoub with regard to the quality of life transplant recipients living with a foreign heart may have.

He actually mentions it when asked by patients about how their post-transplant life will be; he mentions it on every occasion; at scientific conferences; as well as on his statements for the CNN.

Mrs Adam is more than just a woman having had a heart transplant. She is the first Greek woman and among the first women worldwide having given birth after her heart transplant! On the occasion of “International Women’s Day” we sought Mrs Adam, the female role model for courage, will, and strength, who succeeded in what we all might have thought impossible. We finally tracked her down in far-away China, where she recently settled with her husband and two children, a boy and a girl, since the couple is employed by a Greek technical company in the city of Guangzhou.

“This is an extraordinary experience”
“I feel happiness and joy, I believed in life, I saw my efforts do me justice, and I am grateful to those helping me have this extraordinary experience”, Mrs Sofia Adam says to the newspaper “Ethnos tis Kyriakis”. “Ever since my difficult youth with the disease, being in continuous anguish since a serious heart problem threatening my life every single moment had been detected early on, until everything changed and our children were born, which was such an amazing development, I am unable to express this feeling with words.

In the summer of 1989, I was 19 years old at the time, I had a heart transplant at “Karolinska” transplant center in Goteborg, Sweden.  My dreams of having a family seemed impossible since at the time no transplant woman –besides there were few of them worldwide back then- had attempted to have children.

At the age of 31 I got married. With the support of my husband, we looked into all details and possible complications as we had already decided to have children”.

The path to the dream
This was a period during which Mrs Adam apparently risked her own life; the “path to the dream” was not an easy one for she was to attempt something not previously done.  Her heart tests showed it would all turn out fine and cardiologists would explain to her that she was able to do anything a perfectly healthy woman could do. “At some point, tests indicated endometriosis, which would be a problem in case of pregnancy.  

With the help of Dr. Elias Gatos, a gynaecologist, we sought recourse to “embryonic creation”.  Together, we overcame a series of problems since the task was not one of the easiest ones.  Eventually, pregnancy was achieved on January 4, 2005.

Only six months after Danae was born, we were surprised to see an unexpected normal pregnancy, without IVF, since previous treatments had restored prior gynaecological issues. By late February 2006, our family had 4 members as our wonderful son, Thodoris, came into the world. We are a happy family”, concludes Mrs Adam.


“Her will overcame my objections”
“Indeed, the case of Mrs Adam was unique for the thought of having a transplant woman with a foreign heart in an IVF program hadn’t even crossed my mind”, says Dr. Elias Gatos, gynaecologist, to “Ethnos tis Kyriakis”. “She was the one insisting on having a child and her faith wouldn’t allow anyone to ignore her.

At first, my objections mostly regarded cardiological aspects and how much would the IVF process affect her heart, pregnancy, and, above all, the period till birth.  The cardiologists at “Karolinska”, as well as Mr Nanas of “Alexandra”, who monitored her, told me “go ahead without any fear as if she were a non-transplant woman”.

It was not as easy, of course, for I had to look into dozens of possible problems; I reviewed her tests and history again and again until I was absolutely certain everything is under control. But even then I was anxious something might go wrong and that we might have put her life at risk.

Eventually, we attempted it, we have been through different stages, we overcame hardships, and Mrs Adam with her husband and both their children are now a happy family”.

Source: ethnos.gr / KLAR GENITSARIOTI

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