After Double Heart Valve Surgery And Aortic Root Repair, Jonathan Smiles In Traffic

By Adam Pick on April 11, 2009

Talk about an incredible, patient attitude towards heart valve surgery? I thought all of you might appreciate reading about Jonathan Abramson… Here is Jonathan’s story:

Hi Adam,

I am 29 years old and just had my second heart surgery.  I was born with a congenital diseased aorta. Growing up, this never affected my lifestyle.  I was always a very active person and played sports in high school. After college in 2002, I had a mechanical aortic valve replacement. Everything was fine, until a few years later when a routine echo discovered a 5.7cm aortic aneurysm that was partially caused by my initial mechanical valve being too small for my body.


Jonathan Abramson After Heart Valve Surgery Recovery
Jonathan Abramson – Double Heart Valve Surgery Patient


On January 29th 2009, I had my aortic root repaired with a Dacron graft as well as a new larger mechanical valve.

I had the procedure done in Stanford by Dr. Craig Miller, who recent performed heart surgery on Aaron Boone.  I cannot give a higher praise to Dr. Miller and his team at Stanford.  I felt more comfortable having this 12-hour operation that going for a routine teeth cleaning.  They were awesome during both pre- and post-op.


Dr. Craig Miller – Jonathan’s Surgeon


It’s only been 6 weeks since the operation and I am back in the gym four times a week and basically have no restrictions except for not lifting as much right now since I am still being a little careful about the sternum. This summer I will continue my active lifestyle as I am an avid surfer even though I am on Coumadin therapy for life.

I wanted to post this to help ease the mind’s of people going through similar surgeries. I had all the normal anxieties that everyone else goes leading up to the surgery. Heart surgery may seem like a crazy surgery but the risks are relatively low if you take care of them in a timely manner.


Mechanical Aortic Valve Replacement


You can have a normal, if not better quality of life than most people and a normal life expectancy (new studies show valve surgery does not affect your life expectancy).  I also feel that I can appreciate life more than people that haven’t gone through such a experience and live life more passionately.

For example, I remember a few weeks ago being stuck in Orange County traffic with a huge smile on my face.

I just wanted to share my experience with people reading this blog that have some uncertainty about heart surgery.

Thank you,

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.

jeff stoveken says on April 11th, 2009 at 1:27 pm

jonathan, thats exactly how i feel ! after going through heart valve surgery, other things seem less important now (like traffic). i am finally feeling like myself after 6 months now. finding out you have an aneurysm is scary,isnt it?well congrats on your speedy recovery and enjoy your good health now. jeff

Danny Maldonado says on April 11th, 2009 at 4:46 pm

Ready to go through surgery Aortic replacement and Root Repair this Monday Thanks for sharing! I am glad you and Jeff are doing fantastic!


maura kenny says on April 11th, 2009 at 5:01 pm

Hi Adam,
I am responding to Jonathan’s aortic heart valve and aortic root replacement surgery. I also had a very positive result from this same surgery due to a congenital aortic valve defect. Unlike Jonathan however I am 56 years old and had my surgery was on November 20th, 2008.
Dr. Ikonomidis at the Medical University of South Carolina was my surgeon and he was awesome. I felt totally confident in him before surgery. He replaced my aortic valve with a St. Jude mechanical valve and repaired the large aneurysm by replacing the aortic root with a dacron graft. (To be quite honest, I was more concerned for my very worried husband than I was for myself.) Recovery was uneventful and I really can’t say that I felt any pain after surgery, There was some discomfort but that was relieved with tylenol before I even left the hospital. It is now 4 months since surgery and I am back teaching (part time). I started back to teaching 7 weeks after surgery. Being on Coumadin and increasing my stamina has been a bit of a challenge but the surgery itself was amazingly less painful than I ever imagined it would be. I just took a 3 mile walk on the beach and I am so grateful to be enjoying Easter weekend with my family and friends.

Lisa Lugo says on April 11th, 2009 at 7:42 pm

Thanks, Jonathon, for sharing your story. I am so happy to hear how well you are doing. It is very comforting for me, I have surgery in one month with Dr. Craig Miller from Stanford and hearing how wonderful your’s went makes me worry less. I am having a aortic valve replacement with a mechanical valve. My dad is going in next week for fix an aortic aneurysm. They are scary operations but hearing such positive results makes me sleep a little better at night. All the best to you, Lisa

Don Henry says on April 11th, 2009 at 9:20 pm

It is great to hear such positive remarks about your surgery and recovery. For those, who read this before having valve replacement surgery , this will be a huge comfort to them. I had my aorta valve replaced 9 years ago, so ,I will need it again sometime in the future and am considering the mechanical valve this time. Two surgeries are plenty for anyone. It is good to hear that you have adjusted to the coumadin.

LAurie Collins says on April 12th, 2009 at 2:56 am

Thanks for sharing your experience. I have 2 quesyions to ask.
I will undergo a root replacement with a composite graft and mechanical valve in 10 days due tp patient prosthesis mismatch. I would like to hear about the pain level. My initial replacement was done through the minimally invasive approach.The nurses at that time told me that there was a lot more pain with the minimally invasive approach because they cut through muscle.(I also saw people with sternectomies getting around much soon er than I did.)
I would also like to know if surgery is easier to deal with the second time around. (I know that the Cesarean pain was much easier to handle the second and third time around.)
Thanks for all the inspiration and words of comfort!

Taylor says on April 13th, 2009 at 12:46 am

Jonathan – Couldn’t agree with you more on two fronts – Craig Miller and team are absolutely awesome and post surgery I feel I can appreciate life more now too! I sometimes slip back into my pre-surgery zone and let stupid stuff get the best of me but one glimpse of my scar or the the pre and post-op ascending aorta pictures I have posted in my office puts me back on the right path. Best of luck to you!

Jackie says on April 14th, 2009 at 6:21 am

Hi Jonathan
I am reading this in London and for some reason we dont seem to have website like this here. I had my aortic valve replaced in Sept 2005. If you have your operation on the NHS in England you are offered a mechanical valve only, but if you have private insurance you can basically have what you like. This is not always a good thing as I have found out. They offered me a tissue valve and I thought it would be the better option as I wouldnt have to take medication, now here I am four years later and I have to have it replaced already. It seems that a tissue valve is not really viable for a 41 year old who likes to do lots of exercise as they wear out pretty quickly. I felt really down and depressed over this, but then I read this website and it made me realise I am not the only one, there are lots of people who have heart surgery 2, 3 or even more times and they get through it, they soldier on and get back to normal, go back to work and do everyday things. I felt a bit worried about the medication but then I thought if you can do everything you want to do then so can I. I would just like to say that I feel alot better and alot more positive after reading your blog and would like to thank you.

mrs smith says on May 7th, 2011 at 10:25 am

hi Johnathan.
I had a tissue aortic valve replacement 16 years ago i am about to have a new larger root and then mechanicle valve fitted i have been really worried as i had never heard of a new root option until i saw a new surgeon at Harefield hospital.I feel happier now i know that i have read your comments thank you for thinking of others and i hope you continue in good health and have a happy life .I am 67 years old by the way
Regards chrissy.

Lj Grillo says on March 22nd, 2017 at 8:55 pm

Thank you for sharing your story,I have a similar situation I’m now fifty years old and had my congenital bicuspid aorta replaced 17 years ago with a Saint Jude mechanical valve, with routine check ups with my cardiologist he discovered an aneurysm at the aortic root it was 3.6 cm years ago and now it’s 5cm those of us who pay close attention to heart surgery know what that means, I’m going to need the root repaired (replaced )and a new valve also I’m looking into homograft root repair and valve replacement with human cadaver to see if I could avoid coumadin as I grow older. I’m in the middle of my research,like you I’ve remained active for years with the mechanical valve tennis jet skiing,gym etc.


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