Dr. Richard Shemin & Robotic Mitral Valve Repair Get ‘Thumbs-Up’ From Larry

By Adam Pick on September 5, 2008

Following his recent mitral valve repair, Larry just sent me a glowing report about his minimally invasive procedure in which Doctor Richard Shemin (UCLA) used the Da Vinci robot. Here are the details from Larry…

Hi Adam,

I had mitral valve repair surgery along with replacing the two cords that hold the mitral valve in place with Gore-Tex cords. The operation was six hours long. Your readers should know that I had this procedure done by the da Vinci robot manufactured by Intuitive Surgical. The surgeons did not have to open up my chest, but only three little incisions on my side. From the moment I woke up from surgery, I have had zero pain and have taken no painkillers. If the patient is a candidate for robotic mitral valve repair surgery, the procedure is as good as the normal surgery of opening up your chest, and the recovery makes it 100% better.


Da Vinci Surgical System


When I started to do my investigation on the Internet I wanted to find one of the best hospitals in the country and one of the top surgeons in a country that did this procedure. I found both with UCLA medical Center and Dr. Richard Shemin. The treatment I received at UCLA medical Center was the best you could ever hope for, and Dr. Shemin is an outstanding surgeon and a very nice person which is an outstanding, combination.


Doctor Richard Shemin
Dr. Richard Shemin


FYI, I was driving two weeks after surgery and lawn bowling after four weeks. Please make sure your readers know of this procedure.

Best regards,


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 HeartValveSurgery.com 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 HeartValveSurgery.com 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.

Rick Hazlett says on September 5th, 2008 at 2:25 pm

Larry, did you have symptoms before the repair and was your mitral regurgitation considered “severe”? How long had you had the mitral valve problem? Did you try the “watchful waiting” approach for a period of time and what made you decide to have the surgery? Thanks, Rick

Rosie says on September 5th, 2008 at 2:42 pm

Rick !
Explain your watchful waiting, please.
I am also waiting for the report from my doctor on my last echo….I’m 62 and 6 months ago my cardiologist wanted me to have surgery, but my surgeon would not tell me 100% that I needed the operaton. (Mitral valve repair or replacement–I had moderate to severe leakage at that time). So 6 months later I just had my echo and am waiting for the results and the decision. I’m not sure if the waiting for a new test every 6 months is worth the worry !

Leslie Lafayette says on September 5th, 2008 at 2:54 pm

Larry I too had Dr. Shemin at UCLA and the robot~ !! I wrote earlier about it and thumbs up from me too. I see Dr. Shemin in November for a follow up and will say hi for you!

Leslie says on September 5th, 2008 at 6:47 pm

To Rosie…I am your age and I went through about a year and a half of watchful waiting and a lot of research. I personally visited 3 cardiothoracic surgeons, driving a full day to see one and half days the other two. If you are having moderate-to-severe mitral valve regurgitation, you can get a lot of information on the internet to help you determine which you would rather have: heart surgery now, or heart failure later. For me, the answer was clear. If you have had other symptoms such as shortness of breath or atrial fib, the answer will get even clearer. Don’t wait for these to appear! If you wait too long for surgery, you can never recover what heart function you have lost. I wish I had done mine 2 years earlier. I had to convince my own cardiologist, but suddenly he seemed to see the light after a year of telling me I should wait (“Open heart surgery is no party,” he said.) I guess he read the same things I did and finally told me to go get it fixed. 🙂 I was scared, but once I made up my mind to do it, I moved forward without hesitation. Like Larry I chose Dr. Shemin for his expertise with the Da Vinci robot. I was in the hospital only 5 days and would recommend UCLA and Dr. Shemin to anyone. Good luck!

Rosie says on September 6th, 2008 at 3:56 am

Thanks Leslie,
Yes, I also have A-fib, shortness of breath on mild exertion, and some enlargement of the heart. I have done lots of reading and this blog has helped. My energy level has dropped, and I really would like to get off the Coumadin ! I am hoping they can repair rather than replace the valve. Guess it is time to have the repair done and get it over with. I have worked since I was 15 and still work 40-50 hours a week (down from 60-70). I am in good health otherwise. How long was your recovery? I want to be able to get back on my feet with little help from others as most of my family is not local. I guess I have the same worries as most people, it is just that I have always been the care-giver in my world and now to need care is hard to accept. Thanks to all bloggers for their personal insights.

paul glantz says on September 7th, 2008 at 9:25 pm

i am interested in roboic mitral valve repair using the clip only. where the heart is not stopped. please reply

Larry Larsson says on September 9th, 2008 at 11:53 am

Hi Rick,

My symptoms before surgery were shortness of breath when walking uphill, and a little more tired than usual but I thought it was due to old age for I am 67 years old. I have had a heart murmur for 25 years, but just recently the VA became concerned and had me do an echocardiogram and EKG with the results saying that I had severe regurgitation and needed to have cardiac surgery. I decided to do it quickly to forestall any heart damage which turned out to be the right answer.

The operation is nothing to be afraid of, and recovery is phenomenal. Best wishes, Larry

Nora Distefano says on November 13th, 2008 at 12:49 pm

Hi, Larry,
I would love to get in touch with you directly regarding your experience with da Vinci Mitral Valve Surgery. Could you please contact me at nora.distefano@intusurg.com or 408-523-2199?
Many thanks,
Nora Distefano, Intuitive Surgical

debbie Berman says on November 25th, 2008 at 4:32 pm

I am about to have robotic surgery to repair my mitral valve. I read about your surgery on the internet and was happy to hear that you are doing well and that you had little or no pain. It was a scary decision to leave Chicago and travel to Greenville N.C. where Dr. Chitwood will perfom the surgery. I certainly hope that my outcome will be as good as yours. I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving and continued health. Debbie Berman

Janice says on July 29th, 2009 at 4:02 pm


I will have robotic surgery to repair my mitral valve on August 6, 2009. I would like to get in touch with you regarding your experience. Please contact me at janicehknapik@yahoo.com.
Thank you.

L Barnes says on September 16th, 2009 at 5:01 pm

Is The Da Vinci procedure as fullproof as the old fashion open heart surgery? I will have Dr. Shemin at UCLA if go roboticly. Thanks for any info you can give me. PTL

Ron Patton says on October 14th, 2009 at 12:27 am

I’m two weeks post-op tomorrow and feeling great. I had extensive mitral valve repair plus a maze procedure plus closure of my left atrial appendage. All were done with the Da Vinci system by Dr. Siwek in Spokane.

Do not watch and wait. I did for too long and it made my repair much more complex and potentially damaged my heart. If you have “hidden” symptoms (a-fib, heart enlargement, etc) get your valve fixed asap. Don’t wait for obvious symptoms.

I went with Dr. Siwek because of my cardiologist’s recommendation – but not without a lot of research on my part. I decided on him because of his 99%+ repair rate and his stellar reputation. His use of the Da Vinci system made my decision even easier.

At two weeks post-op I’m convinced I made the right choice.


Katrin McKay says on July 21st, 2011 at 8:04 pm

I shall always remember Dr. Shemin. He’s unsurpassed in every way.
My only regret is that I no longer live in CA.
My mitral valve repair was a total success, performed in June-09.
He’s not only an excellent cardiac surgeon, but also a lovely man.

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