Last December, when civics teacher Chen Danziger suddenly felt dizzy while walking up the path to her school, she thought it was due to her pregnancy, but she was wrong. It was the beginning of a heart attack.
Two high school students saw Danziger collapse and quickly performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), applying the lessons they’d learned in a first-aid course. Then, with the Magen David Adom siren blasting, Danziger was hurried by ambulance from Beit Shemesh to Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem 25 minutes away.
Last week, Danziger, age 29, gave birth at Hadassah to a healthy baby boy, her third child. She and her husband, Otniel, named him Shahar, the Hebrew for dawn. “We pray for a new dawn right now for all Israelis,” said Otniel.
Hadassah electrophysiologist Dr. Yitschak Biton recalls, “We diagnosed Danziger with rare heart disease, arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia (ARVD)“. In ARVD, the heart muscle is replaced by fibrous tissue, making it harder for the heart to pump blood. To treat her, Dr. Biton inserted a subcutaneous defibrillator, saving both her life and that of her baby. Implanted near the heart, the under-skin device monitors a person’s heartbeat and automatically delivers a small electric shock to the heart to correct a potentially lethal rhythm.
At the time, Dr. Biton teamed up with Hadassah obstetrician Dr. David Knigin to ensure that Danziger was safe to continue her pregnancy and give birth.
“We thank everyone in Hadassah who helped bring our child into the world,” says Danziger. “It wouldn’t have happened without you. I’m so happy and filled with emotion.”