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In Memory Of George Soldan… And, His Durable Aortic Pig Valve

Posted by Adam Pick on March 30th, 2009

I often tell patients that heart valve surgery should be perceived as a medical miracle.

“Why?” you may be wondering.

Well, it is through valvular surgery that many, many, many, many of us will live longer, healthier lives. My readers constantly reinforce this belief. These days, it seems as if every time I click my inbox, I receive an inspirational, patient story relating to valve repair or valve replacement.

Interesting Case In Point… George Soldan

George Soldan – Heart Valve Surgery Patient In 1976

The story of George Soldan was just sent to me by Sharon, his daughter. I thought you might enjoy learning about the positive impact of a pig valve replacement surgery performed in 1976… over 32 years ago.

Here is what Sharon writes:

Hello Adam,

Seeing the Barbara Bush heart valve story on television prompted me to go online and read information about valve replacement surgery. I found your website and thought I would share my father’s story.

My father had a pig valve replacement in 1976 at Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut. The doctors believe his aortic valve function was compromised due to rheumatic fever when he was a child. However, the valvular disorder was not formally diagnosed until he was around 50. The doctors decided to monitor him after that. The diagnosis occurred in 1968… I guess the chances of successful valve surgery back then were 50/50.

Pig Valve Replacement By Edwards Lifesciences

Unfortunately, my dad collapsed at work in 1976. At that time, the doctors felt he required surgery even though the longevity of a pig valve was uncertain. The surgeons said the tissue valve may last up to 13 years. After that, my dad might need a redo.

Dad was 56 and quite healthy at the time of his surgery. He made it through the surgery with flying colors and was back to work in only two months! In those days, that was quite something.

Over the years, Dad and his pig valve did very well. In 1991, at 72 years of age, he underwent surgery for cancer. Guess what? The pig valve did its job and kept him going. However, Dad passed due to cancer in May, 1991.

The pig valve was 15 years old when Dad died. (During that time, Dad received his fair share of pig jokes and gifts.)

Ultimately, our family and friends got to have Dad for 15 extra years. I am so thankful for that pig valve. Again, I can not express enough how I am forever grateful to those doctors.  My dad was my hero. Those extra years with him were priceless.

Thank you for listening to my story.


Adam Pick
Written by Adam Pick A dad, a husband and a patient, Adam Pick founded this website in 2006 to educate you about heart valve surgery from diagnosis to recovery.
You can get the latest updates about heart valve surgery from Adam at his Facebook, and Twitter pages. Click here to email him.


Barbara J. says on March 30th, 2009 at 1:24 pm

Could you find out what type of valve Robin Williams had? I’ve heard Cleveland Clinic does mostly bovine tissue valves rather than any pig. I must make a choice within the next 4 weeks. Anybody out there have any experience with the bovine tissue valves? Thanks.


Don Henry says on March 30th, 2009 at 1:49 pm


I had my aorta valve replaced with the Carpentier Edwards Bovine Valve in 2000 at age 55. I am now 64 and doing well. I have read where some patients have gone 20 years with the bovine valve, but I was told at the time of surgery it would last about 12 years. I am anticpating another surgery within 2 to 4 years; however I don’t know this for certain.



Gail says on March 30th, 2009 at 2:49 pm

My husband had the bovine valve done last september. He has done well and it was done at the Cleveland CLinic.


Mary Ferraro says on March 30th, 2009 at 6:09 pm

My Dad had his leaky mitral vavle replaced with a bovine valve in the summer of 1997 and then moved from NJ out to PA across the street from a cow farm! You can’t imagine the jokes. He is still doing great and has now seen all 17 gradchildren born and one just graduated college. I had mine repaired 5 months ago and am now also doing great . . . thank you all to Adam Pick and everyone who writes-in here. You all made it easier for me as I was less afraid and knew lots of what to expect.


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