Mom Gives Birth, Suffers Near-Fatal Stroke Hours Later Due to Undetected Heart Defect: ‘Ticking Time Bomb’

"The risk [of stroke] increases at the third trimester of pregnancy and the postpartum time after delivery," the woman's doctor said

<p>Good Morning America/YouTube</p> Gary Galfayan and Christina Aleksanian on

Good Morning America/YouTube

Gary Galfayan and Christina Aleksanian on 'Good Morning America'

A California woman is lucky to be alive after she survived a life-threatening stroke following the birth of her third child, according to a report.

A few hours after Christina Aleksanian, 36, had given birth to her third child — a daughter named Stephanie — she and her husband Gary Galfayan told Good Morning America that they went from feeling elation at the birth of their child to fear after she started feeling ill.

Aleksanian said she remembered getting a migraine and feeling her hand go numb as she spoke to her newborn child’s pediatrician before it all happened. She recalled: "My pediatrician came in and was trying to talk to me and I don’t remember after that. My husband describes me as laying there with a very blank face."

Her husband recalled at that point “doctors coming in” saying, “Code blue, code blue, stroke.” Galfayan said doctors described the situation with his wife as a "ticking time bomb" while wheeling her off to an operating room.

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Doctors examined the blood vessels in her brain and it was determined that she needed to undergo an emergency thrombectomy to remove a blood clot from her brain, her doctor Onkar Marwah told the outlet.

"This was quite an immediate action that was taken to save her brain and save her life," Marwah told GMA. We reestablished blood flow to that part of the brain so the brain could start recovering."

Marwah said that the stroke had been a result of her having a previously undetected congenital heart defect called a patent foramen ovale, in which a hole between the left and right chambers of the heart is left open as opposed to closing after birth, according to Penn Medicine.

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He told the outlet that a blood clot formed in the area while she was giving birth and moved through the hole, causing a stroke. Marwah shared that this had been a rarity as Aleksanian previously gave birth twice with no issues, though women needed to be aware that pregnancies do increase the risk of stroke.

"The risk [of stroke] increases at the third trimester of pregnancy and the postpartum time after delivery," Marwah said. "And when a stroke happens, the most important thing is to recognize it early and get to a stroke center ASAP, so call 911, call an ambulance to get there immediately."

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He said Aleksanian may not have survived the stroke if the pediatrician hadn’t noticed it immediately. The signs of a stroke include numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body, sudden confusion, trouble speaking, difficulty understanding speech and trouble seeing or walking, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The CDC noted that people can test this by doing the F.A.S.T. test to check if a person’s face is drooping, they are unable to move one of their arms and they have slurred or strange speech.

Aleksanian said she was discharged from the hospital about a week after the stroke, but then experienced another bout of bad luck struck just a few weeks later. The family had been driving between doctor’s appointments when they had gotten into a multi-vehicle car crash that sent them to the hospital again. Luckily, the family was able to survive unscathed.

"It's incredible what we went through and that we're out and we're able to share our story," Aleksanian said. "I tell the story. I've lived the story. But, emotionally, I have a hard time accepting the story."

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