Aortic Aneurysm & Ross Operation Does Not Stop John Turan!

By Adam Pick on March 24, 2008

This is the courageous, patient story of John Turan. As you will read, John had a triple-whammy heart surgery – a Ross Operation (aortic and pulmonary valve replacements) AND his ascending aorta was replaced due to an aneurysm.

I could go on-and-on about John, Mercy (his wonderful mother) and Dr. Bleiweis (his incredible surgeon), however, I think it’s best to hear his side of the story.


John Turan - Ross Operation and Aortic Root Replacement Patient (Florida)


Email from John Turan

Hello Adam,

My name is John Turan. You may remember my Mom, Mercy, who has been in touch with you (and some of your blog patients) throughout my surgery and recent recovery. I am writing to thank you, although thanks seems inadequate for all you have done for me and my family.

Like you, I knew I had a valve issue my entire life. I also, took a 3-4 year break from my annual cardiac diagnostics and follow-ups due to a combination of events like my cardiologist’s retirement, marriage, re-locating twice, two newborns and the old excuse of, “I feel fine, I’m sure nothing has changed, I’ll get to it next month”.

Needless to say, the trap was set.

In January of 2006 I suffered what could best be described as a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA). I was at a restaurant and became confused. I did not recognize my dinner guests. However, I was able to call my wife (a nurse) and ended up in the Emergency Department.

After one week of tests, a transesophogeal echo and a cardiac catheterization, the unknown episode was determined to be idiopathic – no conclusion could be made. However, the cardiac catheterization doc’s advice was the most appealing. The advice was “I wouldn’t do anything since you have no symptoms, wait for symptoms”.

I liked that advice so I waited two years before pursuing another opinion. I have since learned that waiting for symptoms to manifest could mean irreversible damage to the heart. I am certain that this episode was linked to my heart condition, even if others were unsure.

My second opinion came from Dr. Shands (University of Florida Medical Center) and for the first time in my life I was diagnosed with a Cardiac MRI.

As you now know, the recommendation was surgery… quickly. I probably could have benefited from surgery earlier as my aorta had already become an aneurysm. I don’t blame my earlier physicians since none of them had the benefit and detail of a Cardiac MRI. Plus, I was always asymptomatic.


John Turan Had Double Heart Valve Surgery And An Ascending Aorta Replaced


The shock and research specific to heart surgery began simultaneously. Almost immediately, my mom got your book into my hands to study.

I will tell you that I was hiding my fears very well. I had a newly constructed home (without a permanent mortgage that we eventually got three days prior to surgery), two babies (a boy 2 years old and a girl 10 months old), a demanding outside sales job in health care and an already strained wife who was working full-time AND in graduate school.

It wasn’t until I read your book that my fears subsided. I was greatly comforted in that here was a regular guy (you) who had fear and challenges like me but was able to overcome it all.

Not only that, like a pioneer returning home, you gave me an idea of what to expect (more importantly not expect) on my fearful journey. You created a template I could use by simply plugging in my life and my family resources. I suddenly found myself confidently answering questions from my family that I could never have answered without your help. I was no longer in fear mode, I was now in planning mode – eager to get the job done. You introduced me to the Ross Procedure which caused further research and prepared me with questions when I began my search for a surgeon.

When Kelly (my wife) and I interviewed my cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. Mark Bleiweis, the meeting could only be described as spiritual, not scientific. We had a connection that left me with the confidence that this was the guy for me. Regardless of the outcome, I trusted him with my life – on some level deeper than professionalism or skill. It just felt like I was with the right person and I wanted him leading my surgical treatment and recovery team.

My surgery was not without complications but the complications ended in the operating room as I have had none since I awoke. Doctor Mark Bleiweis (pictured below) skills are surpassed only by his wonderful, personal and comfortable ease with his patient and family members before, during and after surgery.


Dr. Mark Bleiweis - Heart Surgeon, Florida
Dr. Mark Bleiweis – Heart Surgeon


Doctor Bleiweis performed the Ross Procedure AND replaced my ascending aorta with a graft tube connecting my new aortic valve (old pulmonary) to my aortic arch. I left the hospital on the 5th day after surgery taking nothing more than ibuprofen – my pain was nearly non-existent. My wife and I even stopped at Chili’s Restaurant on the way home to enjoy our favorite treats! 🙂

I saw Dr. Bleiweis yesterday for my two-week check-up and he was very pleased, if not surprised, with my progress so far. Sixteen days post-op I am in good spirits, walking over a mile at-a-time. I was even able to put together my son’s present, a new tricycle, in time for his 2nd birthday on Wednesday, March 26. We plan to bring our babies (Cooper and Brinley pictured below) home on Easter Sunday. They have been staying with their grandparents since the operation.

Thank you very much for sending me the Incision Shield. Doctor Bleiweis and his nurse had not seen an Incision Shield before. They were very impressed. I provided them with the brochure / instructions that come with the device and recommended it. It not only lives up to the advertised benefits but has saved me from a few flying stuffed animals, flying toys and love slaps from the babies when they sit on my lap.


John At Home With Family After Ross Operation And Ascending Aorta Replacement


Also, I created my own simple blog for my support group where you can find some newsletters, updates, pictures and comments from my support group. Please know that I am happy to be a resource to prospective heart-valve-patients and you are welcome to share my contact information for such purposes. I am also sensitive to the fact that all surgeries and recoveries are different and there were some aspects of my experience that may frighten prospective patients. I will carefully chose my responses so as not to frighten anyone unduly or promote unrealistic expectations.

I can only imagine what you sacrificed to make your heart valve book possible and continue to sacrifice for your support blog. Please know that I am incredibly grateful that you made those sacrifices. I am certain this is echoed among the many patients whose lives you touch everyday. Thanks for being there for Mom (Mercy). My family and I believe YOU helped us more than words can ever describe and we are honored by your dedication and work. Please let me know if I may be of assistance.

At your service,
John Turan

Written by Adam Pick
- Patient & Website Founder

Adam Pick, Heart Valve Patient Advocate

Adam Pick is a heart valve patient and author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery. In 2006, Adam founded to educate and empower patients. This award-winning website has helped over 10 million people fight heart valve disease. Adam has been featured by the American Heart Association and Medical News Today.

Adam Pick is a heart valve patient and author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery. In 2006, Adam founded to educate and empower patients. This award-winning website has helped over 10 million people fight heart valve disease. Adam has been featured by the American Heart Association and Medical News Today.

Maribel says on April 1st, 2008 at 11:13 pm

John: Sergio and I had been following your case through your sweet mom Mercy wich I had the great pleasure to see in the photograph above with a really relaxed and happy expression. Congratulations!!! We’re happy to see you so well surrounded by your beautiful family. We send you our best thoughts and we’re sure you’re going to have the best recovery. We hope we heart-valve patients and caregivers would meet someday……..

mercy turan says on April 5th, 2008 at 9:05 pm

Dear Maribel and Sergio: So glad to hear from you again. John is doing well and starts his cardiac rehab at the local hospital Monday, April 7. He had a short episode of fast and skipping heart rate that scared us a bit, but was followed immediately by his surgeon. and it did resolve with a change in dosage of his heart medicine (Toprol). He is driving short distances (in a car without airbags, which was my old car–so glad I didn’t get rid of it). Still, he does not have the ok to return to work until June 1st if everything goes well. He still gets tired but improving every day. We thank God and everyone who helped us through this. Very especially, we thank Adam, who literally “changed our lives” with his book and this blog!

How is Sergio doing? please keep in touch. Much love and blessings, Mercy, mother of John.

Maribel says on April 7th, 2008 at 6:18 pm

Hi Mercy!! Good to hear from you again! We’re glad John is ok and ready to continue with his life. It is normal he is still tired Sergio was too until the doctor cut half a medicine and he woke up to life again. I guess we’re all blessed with the results of surgery and with the wonderful support Adam is. Send you our best wishes and keep in touch. Sergio is driving and went last week to his normal life at work and happy about it.

David says on February 24th, 2009 at 5:33 pm

Hi, John, I’m David. When I was 19 I had a Ross Procedure at Miami Children’s Hospital. They also found I had undiagnosed endocarditis which meant I was pretty sick for awhile, on the vent 5 days and in the hospital 10. I did well afterwards, though and had yearly exams. For an unrelated issue I got a chest CT in ’04 and was found to have a “dilated” aortia. Since my aortic root had already been replaced during the Ross, this meant the new root had dilated. The docs watched it yearly and it is now 5.2cm x 5 cm at the aortic root and is now considered a full blown aortic root aneurysm. Some docs say wait awhile longer since there’s no symptoms, others say operate now. How big was your aneurysm and did they give you the option of waiting or not? Thanks. I had to think of another open heart at 24 but I don’t want to die from this thing either. Thanks for your help.

Nina says on May 9th, 2010 at 4:24 pm

I am so glad to ready your story. I have to go surgery soon an aortic aneurysm and a valve replacement. I have been so sad and nervous about the procedure. I am also going with a brilliant heart surgeon who I believe with the heart he is going to operate. But I time I feel afraid. Your page has comfort me as you can imagine. Thank you very much for sharing that beautiful story.


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