By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS
Alanna Siviero spent her life creating innovative advertising campaigns that could spark passion in an audience.
Siviero, who lived in Silver Lake, California, died from complications following a sudden cardiac arrest in November at the age of 40.
This week, an ad campaign in her memory hopes to pay tribute to her and drive awareness of heart health in women in support of the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women.
OUTFRONT Media Inc., Siviero’s former employer, is donating several of its U.S. billboards to the Ad Council to support the campaign this spring. The Ad Council is a private, non-profit organization that coordinates pro-bono public service campaigns developed by leading U.S. advertising and media industries.
“The fight in Alanna, her love of design and the change she made in her market in such a short time was and is so inspiring to so many of us, we wanted to do everything we can to keep her memory alive,” said Eddy Herty, OUTFRONT’s national creative director.
Siviero was a regional creative director at OUTFRONT in Los Angeles. She and her husband had moved to the area from New York last summer when she fell ill last October.
She and her husband Marc Nahas had spent the day driving around the new area after taking their 5-year-old son George to a birthday party. But by early evening, Siviero felt oddly tired, and went to bed, waking the next day feeling dizzy and vomiting.
She stayed in bed all day, trying to recover, figuring it was a simple virus. On Monday, she still felt ill and called in sick. That afternoon, she suddenly called to Nahas, and when he arrived, she clenched her heart and was staring into space.
“She was responding to my voice, but was looking past me,” Nahas said. “Then she leaned over and fell to the ground.”
At first, Nahas thought Siviero was having a seizure and jumped to make sure she didn’t get injured in the fall. She’d had two grand mal seizures in her late teens, and took anti-seizure medication for years until getting a clean bill of health from a neurologist in 2013.
But instead of having convulsions, Siviero’s face turned blue. Nahas called 911, and began dispatch-led CPR until an ambulance arrived.
The EMT crew got her heart started again and Siviero was put into an induced coma at the hospital while doctors tried to figure out what triggered the cardiac arrest and learn more about any brain injuries.
After testing failed to reveal any blockages, doctors suggested an irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia may have triggered the cardiac arrest. Siviero’s father had survived a heart attack caused by an irregular heart rhythm and was treated with medication.
Nahas was hopeful, as doctors discussed treatment with medication or possibly an implantable cardioverter defibrillator, once she came out of the coma.
Unfortunately, Siviero continued to have uncontrollable seizures and the focus shifted from cardiology to neurology. After two weeks, she was transferred to a neurology center at Keck Hospital of USC, where a medical team monitored her brain activity and tried stronger medications.
“Every time they’d try to wean her off the meds, she’s seize more,” Nahas said. “The damage had been done that first day and there was nothing they could do.”
Siviero died Nov. 6, more than three weeks after her cardiac arrest.
Today, Nahas and the couple’s 5-year-old son George live in Toronto, close to family.
“Day by day, it’s tough, but I try to talk to as many people as I can,” Nahas said.
Nahas has been working with a therapist and tries to surround himself with supportive friends and family. He also started working again, giving himself something to focus on, although his work is a constant reminder of Siviero.
Nahas and Siviero had spent 20 years together, meeting as design students in college and working together for more than 15 years.
“We were intertwined, not just as a couple, but also in design,” Nahas said. “Not only is my life partner and soul mate gone, but now I can’t bounce things off of her. I have to approach my work differently.”
Nahas said he feels honored that Alanna will be part of a campaign that celebrates women and her passion for life.
“Alanna didn’t take life for granted and lived life to the fullest,” Nahas said. “She was always ready for an adventure.”