MANHASSET, Long Island (WABC) -- A Long Island mother and her three sons reunited Thursday with a team of cardiologists who saved her from a rare genetic condition.
Salima Mohip, of Elmont, is living with hypercholesterolemia, an excess of cholesterol in the bloodstream, which ultimately caused the deaths of her father and two siblings.
Cholesterol is a fat that the body needs to work properly, but too much bad cholesterol increases the chance of getting heart disease, stroke and other problems.
Her history with heart disease dates back over 20 years. A 2002 angioplasty revealed that 95% of one artery was clogged, and in 2014, she was rushed to LIJ because she couldn't breathe.
"In 2014, I had my first open heart surgery," she said.
She was just 42 when she had the surgery, the same age her father and sister died from heart attacks. Her brother died even younger, at age 37.
Dr. Ben Hirsch, director of Preventive Cardiology at Northwell's Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital, placed Mohip on five different medications, all to no avail.
Still, her bad LDL cholesterol was above 200 mg, with the goal was to bring it down to under 70.
Dr. Hirsch said the only answer was apharesis, which is an extracorporeal therapy in which the patient's blood is passed through an apparatus that filters out cholesterol and returns the "cleansed" blood back into to patient's body.
On April 13, Mohip became the first person on Long Island to receive this treatment, under the guidance of Dr. Guy Mintz, director of Cardiovascular Health & Lipidology.
It took about four hours, and it must be repeated every two weeks for life.
"It is very gratifying that after three treatments of therapy, her cholesterol is well below our target," Dr. Hirsch said.
In the meantime, all three of Mohip's sons are exhibiting very high levels of cholesterol and are being seen by Dr. Hirsch.
Knowing that she had passed on a potentially deadly disease to her three sons has been very difficult for the devoted mother, who feared that her children would resent the difficult medical journey ahead.
"I feel great now," Mohip said. "It's been a journey getting to this point."
For Mother's Day, the three boys presented her with flowers to honor her courage and to assure her that they are all on this path of recovery together.
The Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital is the only location on Long Island where the treatment is available.
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