More About Traveling To The Cleveland Clinic For Heart Valve Surgery

As you may have seen, the recent post, Did You Travel For Heart Valve Surgery?, has generated a lot of interest and response – as over 25 patients and caregivers have commented.

I have also received several emails from patients wanting to know more about traveling to The Cleveland Clinic for heart valve repair and heart valve replacement surgery.

That said, I called The Cleveland Clinic on Monday to better understand the scale and scope of patients traveling to the world’s number one cardiac care center. I learned three great factoids (from their patient education team) that you might find interesting. For 2008:

  • More than 50% of Cleveland Clinic patients reside outside the state of Ohio;
  • Patients from 89 countries came to The Cleveland Clinic for cardiovascular care; and
  • Patients from all 50 states came to The Cleveland Clinic for cardiac surgery.

I hope this information helps you learn more about the patient profile at The Cleveland Clinic. To get direct patient feedback about surgeons at The Cleveland Clinic, please visit our Heart Surgeon Database.

Simply type “Cleveland” into the city search field. The search results will share actual patient experiences with the following cardiothoracic surgeons – Lytle, Svensson, Roselli, Gillinov, Mihaljevic, Smedira, Sabik and Pettersson.

Keep on tickin!

Adam Pick
Written by Adam Pick

Adam Pick is a patient, author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery and the founder of

To learn how Adam has helped millions of people with heart valve disease, watch Adam's video, subscribe to his free newsletter, or visit his Facebook, or Twitter pages.

  • Marilyn

    I traveled out of state to the Cleveland Clinic, where I received world-class treatment, including outstanding double-valve replacement surgery by Dr. Sabek. However, having said that, I absolutely believe it is unnecessary to travel for this type of surgery. It really, really has become routine. DO get surgery (don’t live on drugs–it only enriches the phamaceutical companies and makes your standard of living go way down). Just don’t feel you NEED to travel to get it.

    For me, one of the downsides of traveling is that I had a terrible reaction to one of the medicines (amiodorone) that they gave me. I became too sick to return to Cleveland and had to seek local care, by which time I developed pneumonia. I’m sure this doesn’t happen to everyone, but it did to me. I spent a week in my local hospital (which didn’t get/didn’t bother to get/couldn’t get my records from the Cleveland Clinic before they could figure out a course of action.

    Just my experience, but, then again, that’s what we share in this blog.

  • Don Henry

    I can certainly understand why anyone, who is about to have open heart surgery, would want to go to the best heart clinic in the country , who have renowned surgeons. Having said that I agree with Marilyn that valve replacement has become almost routine that many surgeons have many years experience all over our country. I wanted to go to the Cleveland Clinic in 2000 to have my aorta valve replace. My surgeon in Richmond, Va told me that they had wonderful surgeons in Cleveland, but I could get just as good here . I had it done in Richmond and Dr Katz did the minimal invasive surgery and I did fine. Out of hospital in 5 days and actually was driving in 3 weeks, although that was stupid on my part. I will need to have this surgery done again within a year and will probably have it in Richmond. My biggest decision will be what type valve to get this time ( Mechanical or Tissue)

  • Joe

    So many positive things have been said here on Adam’s blog about Cleveland Clinic (including my own comments on several occasions). Something that has not been noted that should be, is how well the patient’s family is helped to be comfortable through the challenging time of waiting for their loved one to recover before being discharged.

    The hospital’s Guest House hotel which is right next door to the new cardiac unit is a very nice place for family to stay. Once at the hospital, the staff make every effort to keep you informed of milestones reached throughout the surgery. Family is then welcome in the ICU afterward. Once in the recovery room (they’re all private rooms) family is encouraged to visit no matter what time of the day or night. Foldout beds and blankets are available also to spend the night. A peaceful top-floor “lounge” area is a great place for family members to get away from the hosptial atmosphere for short periods. There’s even live music and other entertainment from time to time.

    Educational info is made available in numerous ways including personal classroom sessions, reading materials, and on-line tutorials so family can learn about the surgery and recovery and how they can help support the patient. Of course there are public access computers available in the waiting rooms as well. Prior to surgery, the patient is given access to create his own personal webpage that can be updated regularly after surgery by a family member. Thus, anyone anywhere in the world has immediate updates (with their password) without having to continually call, or be called by family members to keep tabs on the patient. What a great thing!

    Yes, if my tissue aortic valve needs replaced ever again, I’ll be going back to Cleveland Clinic for the procedure. Good luck to all who need surgery no matter what facility you choose!

  • Marti

    Last month I travelled from Denver to the Cleveland Clinic to have Marc Gillinov as my surgeon. He is a wonderfully gifted surgeon. I had no problems to speak of– but one does need to coordinate with one’s home cardiologist and make sure records are forwarded. The ride home (in our motor home) was something I would not do again. The roads are incredibly rough.

  • Don Henry

    Question for Joe? What kind of tissue valve did you have and at what age and how old are you now? My bovine has lasted 10 years and I was told in September that I will possibly need another replacement within a year.
    The big decision for me is which valve do I get this time ( mechanical or tissue) if the tissue valve only last 10 years, then the mechanical may be my best option. I am 65 years old and certainly don’t want to have open heart surgery every 10 years. This is a huge decision, because I certainly don’t want to be on blood thinners, which definitely affects your quality of life. Anyone reading this, if you have any new data on mechanical valve,please post them. Thanks

  • Steve Feinberg

    Costs, tissue valve replacement versus mechanical? Thanks Steve

  • Sally

    First I wanted to say that Adam’s book is great!

    My husband is going to have a mitral valve repair with a maze procedure to try and correct a-phib. We will have to travel regardless of the two choices we are considering. The choices are; 3 hours to the Bay Area with a doctor that does the traditional surgery which is a longer recovery time, but we do have a better support network or the second choice is to go to the Cleveland Clinic for a minimal invasive procedure. Finances are not an issue, support network is a consideration but not a deciding factor, follow-up is a consideration and recovery time from the traditional surgery (which I believe they will be doing a partial breaking of the first three ribs) Anyone else facing or did face this decision and has feedback?

  • Steve Burke

    For Don Henry,

    I had aortic valve replacement surgery Aug 31 2009, all is well with my Medtronic artificial valve,,,coumadin and me,,,I was given a choice at 60 years old,,,want bovine, pig replacement, count on seeing me (surgeon) in 10 years or so,,,artificial replacement,,,one and done,,,I am making coumadin adapt to me and my lifestyle,,,I do not think I will have to make drastic lifestyle changes due to that drug. I am comforted, knowing I should not have to repeat this operation at an older age.

    I know several people taking coumadin and each has a smile on their face!

    Good Luck with your decision!

  • Werner Scherer

    Hi everybody, I am scheduled for aortic valve and ascending aorta replacement surgery on March 18th at the Cleveland Clinic. My surgeon will be Dr. Sabek. I decided on the tissue valve. I am 66 years old.
    We’ll be traveling to Ohio from the outerbanks of North Carolina. I was told by Dr. Sabek that a week after my discharge I’ll have to go for a check-up.
    I will be staying at a hotel or the guest house for one week.
    As we will be leaving Ohio by car, I would appreciate if somebody could give me some input.
    Adam thanks for writing such an informative book. It’s very helpful.

  • Ralph

    I am just curious about everyone’s experience where they had their surgery. I am going to have an isolated aortic valve replacement within the next month or two. I have read Adam’s book and the 411 heart book to learn more. I feel that I will be a good candidate along with my cardiologist for a type of minimally invasive surgery. I have the first ranked heart hospital in Va and 35th ranked in the country close by (Norfolk). That may be fine and dandy, but the surgeons here only do full sternotomy procedures. This does concern me having an HMO health plan. I like what I have read about Cleveland Clinic but also have the same concerns as “Sally”. I was thinking that a minimally access median sternotomy might be a great compromise. Does anyone have any input? I wish all of you well, and a complication free recovery.

  • humbert sergio

    comments very helpful

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