I really appreciate hearing from the patients and caregivers in our community. Your emails and your phone calls are beyond heart warming (pun intended). That said, I just received an update from Joann Heindorf, a 78-year old patient from Florida, that was simply… extraordinary.
Joann Heindorf – Heart Valve Surgery Patient
Joann’s update came in the form of an envelope that was mailed to my home.
It’s a rare occurrence when I meet a world-renown cardiac surgeon who has also been a patient.
That said, when I recently connected with Dr. Randolph Chitwood, I wanted to learn more about his heart surgery experience and how it shaped his career as a surgeon. So you know, Dr. Chitwood is a heart valve guru having pioneered many techniques including robotic mitral valve repair surgery.
Thanks to Dr. Randolph Chitwood for sharing his experiences as a patient and a surgeon. Also, I want to thank Dr. Chitwood and the East Carolina Heart Institute for taking such great care of many patients from our community including Scott Newson, Lori Glew and Amy Machty.
I received a great question from Andrea about the symptoms of heart valve disease. In her note, Andrea writes to me, “Hi Adam, My 81-year old mom is experiencing symptoms due to mitral regurgitation. She is constantly short of breath and has ankle swelling. My question is… Why are her ankles swelling? Will that go away after surgery?”
To answer Andrea’s question, I contacted Dr. Adam Harmon, a cardiac surgeon from Sequoia Hospital in Northern California who has performed over 3,000 heart procedures and more than 400 valve operations. In his response to Andrea, Dr. Harmon explained:
As we learned in the recent video about atrial fibrillation, other cardiac disorders can accompany a heart valve disease diagnosis. For example, many patients in our community were also diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm.
To help you learn more about aortic aneurysms, I recently met with Dr. Eric Roselli, a heart surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic. So you know, Dr. Roselli has performed successful surgery on many members of our community including Denise Kirchner, Matt Miller and John Carr. Here are the video highlights from our discussion.
In 2010, we donated $5,000 to the Gift of Life to help pay for the cardiac surgery of Victor Saravia, an incredibly cute, one-year old boy from El Salvador. The procedure — that was performed by Dr. John Morales at Driscoll Hospital at Corpus Cristi, Texas — was a success and Victor went home to his family.
The other day, I received an unexpected update from the Saravia family on my Facebook page. As you can see in the picture above, Victor has transformed from a baby to a toddler – who appears to be quite fond of the Mario Brothers toys.
In addition to the picture, I also received a note from Patricia Saravia.