Paige Orlando



Heart Survivor Paige Orlando and her husband, Jason, were 12 weeks into the excitement of expecting their first child. At 24 years old and in good health, they never would have foreseen a heart event that threatened the health of both mother and child.

Paige’s TriStar Centennial Heart & Vascular Center heart care team led by John Riddick, M.D., saved her life and that of her unborn son, Ethan, during the next several months.

“We were able to keep our baby boy because of Dr. Riddick’s concern for my baby and I, and his willingness to listen to me, find what was wrong, and then find the answer,” reflects Paige. “(Dr. Riddick and his team) gave us our family.”

Learning of a health concern
Paige was enjoying early pre-natal care visits with her OBGYN and all seemed to be going well; with the exception that Paige was experiencing swelling and noticeable weight gain very early in her pregnancy. Her doctor wanted to do a series of precautionary tests to be on the safe side.

Several exams later, an echocardiogram – or ECHO - revealed that Paige had fluid around her heart in a condition known as a pericardial effusion. There was no time to spare in this serious health condition. She was referred from her hometown in Bowling Green, Ky., to TriStar Centennial Medical Center in Nashville that very same day.

Paige was transported by ambulance to the emergency room at TriStar Centennial Medical Center in Nashville and met cardiologist John Riddick, M.D., the man who she believes is the only reason the Orlando’s have their family today. He told them the situation was serious, admitted her to the hospital that night, and scheduled a procedure to drain the fluid around her heart the very next morning – a Saturday.

“Pericardial effusion is when fluid builds up between the heart and the pericardium, the sac that holds the heart, which can cause the heart to collapse,” explains Dr. Riddick. “For most patients, a pericardial tap corrects the condition.”

This procedure, which uses a needle and catheter to drain the fluid, is less invasive than a surgical procedure to correct the condition. Surgery would also have required Paige to be under general anesthesia. With her pregnancy, this was something she wanted to avoid. She and Jason agreed with Dr. Riddick that the pericardial tap without general anesthesia was what the right choice.

“I was so nervous because I was worried about my baby’s health and because I was going to be alert during the procedure,” Paige recalled about the day of her procedure. “But Dr. Riddick and his nurses were amazing. They were able to concentrate on the procedure while talking me through it and taking my mind off the fear of being in surgery while pregnant.”

The procedure appeared to be a success. Paige spent three days in the Coronary Care Unit at TriStar Centennial Heart & Vascular Center recovering. Dr. Riddick checked on Paige regularly. He talked to her family, too, providing much needed reassurance during such a scary time for them all.

A nurse in the CCU, Jennifer Mugnier, was especially understanding of Paige’s concerns for her baby’s health. “When I was feeling anxious about how our baby was doing, Jennifer would come and monitor our baby’s heartbeat. It brought me peace of mind,” she said.

Paige was released from TriStar Centennial and sent back to Bowling Green with instructions to get a follow-up ECHO done at a local medical office. “I remember Dr. Riddick telling us how nice it had been meeting our family but that he hoped we all never met again,” Paige said. They felt the same sentiment but would forever be grateful for the care they received from Dr. Riddick and his team.

Follow-up ECHO reveals recurrence
During her follow-up ECHO at TriStar Centennial’s sister facility, TriStar Greenview Hospital, Paige and Jason’s fears of a reoccurrence came to light. The fluid around her heart was back and had built up at a greater rate. It was so serious, she was transported by ambulance back to TriStar Centennial Heart & Vascular Center. When they arrived, Dr. Riddick and Emily Bradley, his nurse practitioner, were waiting for them.

“We determined that Paige’s condition stemmed from a virus and no matter how many times we drained the fluid, it would likely keep recurring,” said Dr. Riddick. “At this point, a surgical solution was the best choice for a permanent fix and I was confident that we could protect both Paige and her baby.”

Dr. Riddick consulted with cardiac surgeon Larry Pass, M.D., also on the TriStar Centennial Heart & Vascular Center team, to do the procedure that could fix her condition. Dr. Pass successfully performed a window procedure, where he made an incision in Paige’s chest to remove part of the pericardium sac to drain the fluid.

Dr. Riddick and Emily provided Paige’s post surgery care. Recovery for this procedure was a week long and both checked in on Paige, Jason, and Paige’s parents regularly.

Paige said she never felt like just ‘another patient’ while under Dr. Riddick’s care. “As busy as they were, I felt like I was their only patient,” she recalls. “He recognized my fear and was always encouraging and validated my concerns.”

Paige received a clean bill of health and was released to go home, with instructions for follow-up screenings. The Orlando’s drove to Nashville for the remainder of Paige’s check-ups during her pregnancy, just to be on the safe side. Thankfully those results came back just fine.

Paige and Jason welcomed their son, Ethan, in June 2011, in Bowling Green.

Paige and Ethan are both in great health in Bowling Green. She and Jason remain thankful for all that Dr. Riddick and his team did for them.

“We were able to keep our baby boy because of Dr. Riddick’s concern for my baby and I, and his willingness to listen to me, find what was wrong, and then find the answer,” reflects Paige. “(Dr. Riddick and his team) gave us our family.”