Roy’s Heart Valve Update: From Dubai To London To Glasgow

By Adam Pick on January 13, 2009

From no symptoms in Dubai to aortic valve replacement in London. Here is an interesting patient story from Roy:


I was sent for a provisional medical check up in November and much to my surprise – after a 5 minute consultation followed by an echocardiogram – the cardiologist informed me that my aortic valve was virtually wasted.


Roy - Aortic Valve Replacement Patient


I had few symptoms apart from a persistent cough and shortness of breath following exercise. After the initial diagnosis, I seeked a second opinion but the outcome was unfortunately the same.

Apparently, the normal pressure gradient through my aortic valve is 15 mm/hg. At 50mm/hg an operation is considered relatively urgent. Mine was 90 to 115 mm/hg. A bit of panic obviously set in. Luckily, I found your book on the internet and it was an absolute godsend. Without it, I would have been completely lost. As an active, golfing 54-year old, my wife and I looked at the Ross Procedure. However, I decided against the Ross Procedure and the mechanical valve.

I am a much traveled senior executive of a shipping company and I decided that the anticoagulant use was of concern. Hence, I opted for a “pig valve replacement”.

I live in Dubai but decided to have the operation in London Bridge Hospital on Dec 11th with one of the United Kingdom’s leading cardiothoracic surgeons Dr. Graham Venn. He was absolutely excellent as was the Cardiologist who initially found the problem, Dr. Amersley.

After the operation, in spite of my relatively active lifestyle and mild symptoms, Dr. Venn informed me that my original, aortic valve was badly damaged. Although the valve originally had three leaflets, two of the leaflets had obviously meshed together which had accelerated calcification and damage.


Graham Venn - Heart Surgeon
Dr. Graham Venn – Roy’s Heart Surgeon

I am now in Glasgow. Three weeks after the operation I am walking 30 minutes per day. Apart from the broken sternum pain, I feel much better than I have for years and look forward to a renewed lifestyle.

I was very surprised to receive the personal message from yourself which was appreciated more than I can possibly explain. I was also very surprised and appreciative of all the personal messages received from previous readers and blogs to your website. It appears your readers are now extended family members.

The support I received from merely purchasing your book was unbelievable and greatly appreciated. The extra information (interviews, surveys) supplied from caregivers, patients and medical experts assisted my wife and me to no end.

During our investigation of the Ross Procedure, we received personal replies from such distinguished surgeons as Paul Selzer at Mount Sinai Hospital (New York) and Sir Magdi Yacoub of Harley Street in London. These guys are legends in their field. Yet, they took the time to respond to my emails.

It is only after this ordeal that one realizes it is probably more difficult being the caregiver than the patient. As the patient, during the operation and early convalescing, you are somewhat oblivious. The caregiver, however, is aware of every moment.

Finally, my heartfelt thanks go to all your “circle of friends”. And, of course, Dr. Venn and Dr. Amersley and the medical staff of the London Bridge Hospital.

I would never represent that this procedure was pleasant. But, thanks to your heart valve book and website, I knew exactly “what to expect” and more importantly “when to expect it”. Hence, my biggest thanks goes to you.

I trust you and your family have a wonderful and prosperous New Year!


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.

Adrian Bishop says on January 13th, 2009 at 9:10 pm

Hey Roy:

Congratulations on your new A valve. I was also taken by surprise. While visiting my grandson in California I got pains in the side of my chest that would not quit. At the emergency room I was treated like 60 yr old having a heart attack, which I was not but the cardiologist told me I needed a new A valve, after viewing my echo-c. I returned home to the US Virgin Islands in the Caribbean where an angiogram and another e-gram confirmed that diagnosis. My aortic valve was litteraly seized from calcification. Hearing the alternatives from Dr Roy Flood in St Thomas, we chose to have a mech valve installed by Dr Louis Kanda in Washington, DC. We chose WDC for all the friends we have there. Dr K was wonderful and being from DR Congo and learning of our relative isolation and propensity to travel helped us decide on the bio-vlave, for the reasons you specify, plus, if the bio-valve fails it is likely to do so gradually, whereas the mech valve might just quit. So here we are two re-activated spirits, tripping the planet much more lightly. Good luck with your continuing recovery!

Adrian B

Bill says on January 23rd, 2009 at 9:32 am

I would also like to add my congratulations to your successful surgery! You will do great. I had my Aortic Valve replaced in May and doing very well. I also opted for the Tissue Valve over the mechanical one. I could not see me taking Blood thinners as active as my like is. These are of course personal decisions and I am thankful there are options of mechanical vs tissue.
Best Wishes on your continued life and recovery!

melissa says on January 29th, 2009 at 3:26 pm

I am interested in knowing the age of Bill…. I have a son born with aortic valve stenosis…. had a balloon at age 3, ross procedure at age 7, which lasted till age 17 at which time he underwent a valve sparing root replacement with a new pulmonary homograph… and now at age 19 he needs a new aortic valve… he loves the outdoors (snow, water ski, hiking, biking….) I am concerned about the anti-coagulant causing more problems. Although several surgeons have told us that the risk of a 4th open heart surgery is far greater than that of any anti-coagulant…therefore recommend a mechanical St. Jude valve….stating that would be the best chance of never needing another avr…does anyone have any comment… thank you

alan says on April 11th, 2011 at 5:41 am

I am due to have a replacement aortic valve in the near future and although the operation itself does not worry me unduly, the breaking of the sternum is of concern. My brother had the same operation four years ago and he says that the sternum seems to “grate” when he folds his arms and is very unpleasant. Does anyone else experience this problem? If so I would very much like to hear from you as to what you are experiencing, if anything?
Best wishes to all who have had this done,

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