A Decade & Change For The Hennon Family
Life is full of surprises. One patient’s experience offers an inside look at the wide-reaching expert care delivered by St. Clair Health obstetricians through the ups and downs at every step of the journey.
Jacki Fury Hennon is many things. Project administrator. Financial analyst. Floral designer. Lifelong Pittsburgh Pirates fan. And on October 2, 2010—after 18 months of meticulous planning—she was expecting to pull off her dream wedding, complete with a reception at PNC Park. But in that final week leading up to her big day, Jacki’s dream became a nightmare.
“I was running last-minute errands with my mother on the Saturday before when I started feeling nauseous and having stomach pain. After a weekend of rest I actually felt worse and was running a fever,” she says. “The pain was agonizing, beyond anything I’d ever experienced.” On Sunday night, Jacki’s fiancé, Chris, took her to St. Clair’s ER.
An ultrasound showed an ovarian cyst. On Wednesday, a CT scan and follow-up ultrasound revealed that the cyst was large enough within her pelvis to create a rare and potentially life-threatening condition called ovarian torsion—one of Jacki’s ovaries had become twisted with a fallopian tube, cutting off blood flow to the ovary. On Thursday morning—the same day as their rehearsal dinner—Jacki and Chris met with Douglas H. MacKay, M.D., a board-certified OB/GYN who practices with Advanced Women’s Care of Pittsburgh. “Everything changed for the better when he arrived,” says Jacki. “There was a lot to talk about, from the wedding to wanting to have a family, and he explained everything about the minimally invasive surgical techniques. I still felt hopeful knowing that both things would still be possible, even if I lost my left ovary.”
Jacki underwent a salpingo-oophorectomy—removal of the ovary and fallopian tube—almost immediately. “The cyst had twisted tightly around Jacki’s ovary,” says Dr. MacKay.
“Sometimes we’re able to twist the vessels back and then see if blood flow returns to the ovary, but in Jacki’s case the ovary and the tube could not be saved.” The size of the cyst presented another challenge for Dr. MacKay. “Jacki’s cyst was so large that I might have done a large abdominal incision, but a large, open incision would have meant that she couldn’t have her wedding as scheduled. My goal is always to be as minimally invasive as possible with every patient, and doing this laparoscopically means that recovery is faster and there’s less post-op pain,” he says.
Still, Jacki spent that evening in a recovery room instead of at her rehearsal dinner. It was worth the trade. “I woke up in a different world,” she says. “My four days of agony were over and I was so grateful for Dr. MacKay. After the dinner, Chris, my sister, the bridal party, and then some of my cousins all came to see me.” Missing the rehearsal dinner was one thing. Cancelling the wedding was not an option for Jacki. “Not even if I had to be pushed down the aisle in a wheelchair with an IV,” she says. “Dr. MacKay told me I could do it, and I had no doubts. I was a bride and I was even able to dance a little.”
Going from hospital gown to wedding gown in 48 hours was a remarkable experience for Jacki. Through it all, Dr. MacKay kept her long-term goals in mind. “It’s best to be conservative with a young woman and not rush to operate, because she’s in her child-bearing years,” he says. Jacki became pregnant the following spring, but unfortunately suffered a miscarriage later that summer. “We kept trying,” she says, “but had no luck for over a year. We came in to discuss Clomid (a prescription medication that stimulates ovulation) with Dr. MacKay. He greeted us by saying, ‘Congratulations! You’re pregnant!’ And eight months later he delivered our daughter, Madelyn.”
In 2015, after seeing Dr. MacKay throughout the course of a new pregnancy, Jacki suddenly started showing signs of labor. Deborah Lenart, M.D., a colleague of Dr. MacKay’s at Advanced Women’s Care of Pittsburgh, was on call in labor and delivery that day. She delivered Jacki’s second child, a baby boy named Carson. Two years later, Jacki began experiencing painful periods that severely impacted her quality of life. Dr. MacKay recommended and performed a uterine ablation, which completely cures only a small percentage of women. “Thanks to his skill, I’m one of them,” says Jacki. She has turned her floral business side hustle into a full-time operation and still sees Dr. MacKay for annual checkups and preventative screenings. “I just really appreciate him as a person,” says Jacki. “When you go through so many kinds of life experiences with someone, there’s a special connection that’s created. He always makes me feel like I’m not just patient number seven that day—and we still talk about my wedding. I’ll never forget how he made it possible for me to have my dream wedding, and how he helped us start our family.”
Dr. MacKay shares Jacki’s sentiment and values their relationship in turn. “After that challenging start for her, I’ve been able to help see her through birth, loss, and the day-to-day gynecologic issues that all women face. I feel very fortunate to have seen her through these different phases of her life, and that’s true for all of my patients. I love being able to encourage mindfulness, mental fitness, emotional strength, and preventative care. I love my job, and I’m blessed to be able to see my patients and their families grow and develop,” he says.
DOUGLAS H. MACKAY, M.D.
Dr. MacKay specializes in obstetrics and gynecology and is board-certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. He earned his medical degree at The Ohio State University School of Medicine and completed residency at AHN West Penn Hospital. He practices with Advanced Women’s Care of Pittsburgh and was named a Top Doctor by Pittsburgh Magazine in 2022. To contact Dr. MacKay, please call 724.941.1866.