After Traveling from Louisville to Los Angeles… After A Valve Sparing Procedure by Dr. Starnes… Nathan and I Connect

Several weeks ago, I was fortunate to meet Nathan Higginbotham — a patient from Louisville, Kentucky who was diagnosed with aortic stenosis and an aortic aneurysm. During our phone call, I quickly sensed that Nathan had done his homework. He was asking all the right questions about his upcoming procedure.

nathan-higginbotham-dr-starnes-patientNathan and Me (Room 568 at USC Medical Center)

When I asked Nathan about his surgeon, he said something like, “I think you know the guy. His name is Dr. Vaughn Starnes.”

I immediately smiled from ear-to-ear.

“Why?” you might be wondering.

Well… Dr. Vaughn Starnes, who is the Chairman of Surgery at USC, performed my heart valve operation in 2005. You can learn more about Dr. Starnes, who has performed over 4,000 valvular procedures, by clicking here.

Dr. Vaughn Starnes - Chairman of Surgery at USCDr. Vaughn Starnes – Nathan and My Heart Surgeon

I have great news to report.

On Tuesday, after traveling all the way from Louisville to Los Angeles, Nathan had a very successful procedure at USC. It turns out that Dr. Starnes was able to save Nathan’s aortic valve and repair his aorta. The operation, which is known as a valve sparing procedure, is a best case scenario for Nathan. He gets to keep his own valve, while his aneurysm, which measured 5.4 centimeters (YIKES!), was replaced with a Dacron graft.

Nathan and his family have been very, very, very active at our patient community. Elizabeth, his wife, Darrell, his dad, and Denise, his mom, have all been updating Nathan’s journal which now has 100+ followers. Amazing!!!

I wanted to meet Nathan. So, I jumped in my car and drove across town to USC. Needless to say, I am glad I made the trip. Nathan looks great and is in good spirits. His family, which made the trip from Louisville to Los Angeles, are beyond sweet and overwhelmingly supportive.

Nathan Higginbotham & Family

Back at home, Nathan and Elizabeth have two little boys – Graham (4) and Reid (11 months). I’m thrilled to know that, in just a little bit of time, those boys are going to reunite with their much healthier daddy.

Many thanks to Nathan, Elizabeth, Darrell and Denise for sharing this experience with our entire community. Also, many thanks to Dr. Starnes and USC for their ongoing care of our patients.

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 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.

  • Sue Sopp

    Awesome article….VERY UPLIFTING : )

  • Valerie Bollands

    Hi Adam,

    WE really enjoy reading you news

    I have just finished reading Nathans experience and wondered if the 5.4 cm is correct?

    I need an aortic valve replacement and have a 48mm aneurysm in my aorta that needs surgery.

    I also suffer with M.S. and my recovery period may take more time that usual with my immobility along with osteoporosis

    I am 69 yrs old and we would really appreciate any recommendation regarding a good surgeon in Perth. W.A.

    I feel I need all the help I can get.

    Please advise

    Val

  • Hi Val,

    Yes, Nathan’s aneurysm measured 5.4 centimeters. The medical guidelines suggest that treatment should occur when the aneurysm measures 5 centimeters — although, I’ve heard that it may have recently changed to 4.5 centimeters.

    I hope that helps,
    Adam

  • Jeremy

    This is a wonderful story! So glad that his family is able to enjoy him!

  • Leslie

    Such a wonderful story! Nathan, so glad to hear you are doing well. 😀 I will be hugging a Keck pillow after my surgery with Dr. Craig Baker at USC on October 24th.

    Adam, so glad to find your website. I’m a bit anxious about my upcoming surgery. My brother and I are having the same exact surgery. His at the Oklahoma Heart Hospital, today! Mine of course will be at USC. I know I will be in good hands. 😀

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