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Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM) Patient Story

Chelsea Moore and her twin daughters are lucky to be alive. When Chelsea was only 20 weeks pregnant, a tangle of blood vessels in her brain, called an arteriovenous malformation (AVM), ruptured – putting her life and the lives of her unborn babies in danger.  

Chelsea had experienced headaches throughout her pregnancy but knew something was terribly wrong March 14, 2010, when she thought she had a migraine and began vomiting.  

“I told my mom, ‘I can’t think. I can’t get out of bed. My head hurts really bad,’” Chelsea said.

Her mother, Brenda Moore, immediately called an ambulance and got her to Norton Hospital. A CT scan confirmed the AVM rupture.  
“Chelsea’s AVM rupture was in the back of the brain near the brainstem, making it especially dangerous,” said Shervin Dashti, M.D., Ph.D., endovascular neurosurgery. “My first concern was to save Chelsea’s life. At the same time, I was very aware that three lives were at stake.”  

Dr. Dashti took extra precautions to shield the unborn babies from X-rays needed to perform the delicate brain surgery. To plug the ruptured blood vessels in Chelsea’s brain, he performed an embolization, in which a small catheter was guided from an artery in Chelsea’s leg to her brain. Once the catheter reached the rupture, a special surgical glue was used to stop the leak.  

According to Dr. Dashti, the initial five-hour surgery and two follow-up procedures after the babies were born were an incredible success.
“Typically the embolization process only takes care of one-third to one-half of the AVM, meaning another rupture could occur in the future,” Dr. Dashti said. “But in Chelsea’s case, we were able to embolize the entire AVM.”  

Chelsea spent a little over a month in the hospital before going to a rehabilitation facility to work on speech deficits and weakness in her right arm caused by the AVM rupture.  

On Aug. 5, four months after Chelsea was rushed to the emergency department, she returned to Norton Hospital and delivered healthy twins, whom she named Faith and Miracle.  

When asked about their names, Chelsea smiled broadly and said, “You have to have Faith, to get a Miracle.”




Want to know more?

According to Dr. Dashti, if Chelsea’s situation would have occurred even a few years ago, the outcome could have been very different. Technology and highly trained specialists have made an almost impossible feat possible. This expert-level care is not available in many places, but it is available right here in Louisville thanks to leaders in this field at Norton Neuroscience Institute.

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