Facing Congestive Heart Failure, Mildred Burns, 83, Considers Heart Valve Replacement Surgery ‘The Best Decision Ever Made’

I just received an insightful email from Mildred Burns. At 83, Mildred was facing congestive heart failure and desperately needed an aortic valve replacement. I thought you might appreciate reading these encouraging words from Mildred about fear, a second heart surgery and quality of life…

Dr. Khan & Mildred Burns In Hospital
Mildred Burns, 83, with Dr. Junaid Khan

Hi Adam —

I had my aortic valve successfully replaced through open heart surgery on May 25, 2011. Five years prior, I had a 4-way bypass with a rough recovery. My cardiologist informed me I was in the beginning stages of congestive heart failure due to my failing aortic valve.

We discussed my options. I have to admit, at 83, I am not afraid of dying. However, the quality of life I would have had without the surgery was not something I was willing to put myself or family through. I was referred to Dr. Khan. He was very a informative and caring doctor.

At age 83, I was not excited to do this again but agreed to a second open heart surgery to replace my aortic valve. In hindsight, it was one of the best decisions I have ever made!

To my pleasant surprise I have experienced very little pain and my recovery has been much easy and fast. From the first days after surgery, I was able to feel the benefits of my new valve. Five weeks after surgery, I am walking, with occasional help from a cane. I use a walker now only if I get up at night as a precaution (better safe than sorry). I am walking up and down 17 stairs daily to my bedroom and stairs outside for walks. I am eating well and even prepare some of my meals as I continue to get stronger. I still get a little fatigued but that is improving daily.

Three Older Women Having Lunch
Mildred Burns (right) After Aortic Valve Replacement Surgery

I recommend Dr. Khan and his team highly to anyone needing heart surgery. Dr. Khan is an excellent surgeon! He and his team have made this procedure as comfortable for me as possible, for that I am grateful. But most of all, had I not done this surgery the quality of my life would have become unbearable.

“My family and I can not say THANK YOU enough to Dr. Junaid Khan, cardiac surgeon, and his team for giving me back the quality of life I once knew and am now able to once again enjoy!” — Mildred Burns

I would also like to let you know how helpful your website was when I was researching valve replacement procedures.


Mildred Burns
Oakland, California

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 HeartValveSurgery.com.

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.

  • Ken Fleming

    Well done, just fantastic

  • Ricky (a female)

    Mildred,I want to be like you when I grow up……Drs. like Dr. Khan,are giving MANY of us new leases on our lives.Thank goodness for people like our Doc.HEROS.I had Mitro valve replacement 8+years ago.I am now 55…….wouldn’t have seen this age without help from my Dr.KEEP ON TICKIN!!!

  • Chuck Rietz

    I need double valve surgery–Aortic Repl and Mitril repair–PLUS 2-3 bypasses–PLUS Maze for A-Fib. The older surgeons want to do a full sternotomy. But I read much on the web about the many benefits of Min. Invasive–small incision or mini-stern and possibly robotic use. It is hard to find a surgeon who agrees with Min Invasive since I have a complex of issues that may all need repair at once.

    I have one surgeon here in AZ who recommends doing valves first–then bypasses–then ablation for A-Fib later if/when needed. He is 100% for Min Invasive–but won’t be available for 30-60 days. I may need to move faster!

    I am looking for a cardiothoracic surgeon in AZ or on the west coast that has a lot of Min Invasive experience and feels that this is the way to go for me–and him. Dr. R Chitwood is a good one in No. Car. Considering him. Also G Ciuffo in Manhattan. Also 2 Drs at Lankenau Med Center in PA.

    What is your experience in this regard–and who can you recommend considering? What is your opinion on Min Invasive procedures?

  • Deborah Finley

    What is my opinion on Min Invasive procedures? Why wait to do the “min”.
    at the age of 59, female, I had aortic valve replacement surgery on 3-16-11, I chose to go bovine, eat more chicken :)after 3 weeks I was in cardiac rehab. I believe that the healing of the open rib cage made me slow down so my heart could heal. Speaking of bovine, my surgeon explained to me they raise the cows in Austrailia and then send the valve to California where it is prepaired for surgery, my question is, what happens to the rest of the cow? I didn’t think to ask my surgeon and am now left wondering. Good luck with whatever type of surgery you decide on.

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