Non-invasive heart surgery

Seven's On Call with Dr. Jay Adlersberg
August 18, 2008 5:46:13 PM PDT
Some heart patients are now getting a second chance at an active lifestyle, surgery free. Doctors have now figured out a way to replace heart valves without open heart surgery.

A new heart valve gave one woman a second chance at an active life .

One in seven people will have a significant aortic valve problem in their lifetime.

Mary Ann Cahalin has been a girl scout for 43 years!

As camp nurse and certified trainer, she couldn't afford to slow down.

But everything changed when Mary Ann's deteriorating aortic valve made it nearly impossible for her to breathe, let alone get around a camp site.

"I was starting to tell people, don't count on me for this program or that program because i don't think I'll be there," said Cahalin.

Because of her age and poor condition, Mary Ann wasn't a good candidate for open-heart surgery. But now, a new, minimally invasive procedure to replace the aortic valve is taking away the risks.

"I believe this is a monumental breakthrough," said Dr. John Lasala.

During the procedure, a catheter is inserted through a small puncture in the groin. The new aortic valve, made from the heart tissue of a cow, is sewn inside a metal stent, then fed up through the catheter and into the heart. The stent pushes the patient's faulty aortic valve to the side and holds the new valve in place. Mary Ann was one of the first people in the U.S. to have the new procedure done. The results were instant.

"The first thing you could see was number one she was smiling and second thing was that she was just full of color again," said Dr. Lasala.

Her recovery was so easy, not only was she up and around the house soon after, she was back out at the camp ground!

"I had no trouble walking from the lodge to the dining hall, then back again," she said.

Camping just weeks after a heart valve replacement, if only there was a patch for that.

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WEB PRODUCED BY: Scott Curkin

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