She is not someone who looks like she would be in heart failure, but at just 19-years-old, Tiya Ayllon’s life changed abruptly.
When she was a freshman at the University of Florida in the fall of 2016, she thought she was battling a common cold but her cough just wouldn’t go away.
“I kept coughing throughout fall semester and towards the end of the year it got worse and my chest hurt more,” said Ayllon.
Ayllon saw multiple doctors who would prescribe antibiotics, which would help for awhile.
Then the cough would return.
Finally, in February of 2017, Ayllon collapsed in the shower and suffered a serious stroke.
She was rushed to the emergency room at Northside Hospital in St. Petersburg.
“I was also septic and they got rid of the blood clot in my brain and then realized the clot in my brain was a part of my heart or my mitral valve that had fallen off,” says Ayllon.
She was in heart failure and would need to have heart valve replacement within days.
“This young lady was unfortunate enough to get a bacteria that entered her bloodstream and then attacked her heart and her heart valve,” said Melinda Coffman, a heart failure practitioner at Northside Hospital.
And after surgery, Ayllon was a very sick young lady.
“I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t really talk. I couldn’t write either. I had to do a lot of therapy afterwards.”
Coffman was the practitioner who helped motivate Ayllon.
“I met this amazing young lady that had what she thought would be the worst thing ever in her life thrown at her all at once and her family was just devastated, naturally. So you could see she had lost her spark,” Coffman said.
It took months, but Ayllon has now returned to school at the University of Florida and feels like she has a new lease on life.
“I don’t take a lot of things for granted now. I definitely appreciate life more.”