For His 40th Birthday Present, Matt Unwraps A Mechanical Aortic Valve & Aortic Root Replacement

By Adam Pick on June 13, 2011

When diagnosed with a life threatening illness, such as severe heart valve disease, patients often confront uncomfortable emotions. Personally, I remember feelings of fear, anxiety and confusion. How me manage those emotions is often a test of our character, our courage, our self and our love for life.

One patient who just passed this test with flying colors is… Matt Fountain from Sarasota, Florida.


Matt Fountain - Aortic Valve Replacement & Aortic Root Replacement Patient


I first learned of Matt’s story six weeks ago. In an email, Matt told me that he was scheduled for an aortic valve replacement and an aortic root replacement surgery due to severe aortic stenosis and an aneurysm. (To learn more about stenosis, click here.)

What struck me about the words in Matt’s email was his extraordinary attitude towards his upcoming surgery. Matt wrote, “My 40th birthday is June 2nd and my procedure is June 7th… I can’t think of a better birthday present for myself.”

“Hmmmm…. Open heart surgery? A birthday present?” I thought to myself, “Now, that is incredible!” As I continued to learn more about Matt and Sandy, his wife, through his heart valve journal, I became humbled by his unique perspective, his positive attitude and his desire to restore proper heart function.

Today, I am happy to share that Matt’s surgery was a complete success. Thanks to Dr. Vinay Badhwar, Matt’s calcified bicuspid aortic valve was replaced with an On-X mechanical valve. Plus, as you can see below, a Dacron graft was used to correct the aneurysm.


Bicuspid Aortic Valve Replacement With On-X Mechanical Valve Replacement WIth Dacron Graft


At his journal, Matt’s latest post reads:


“Surgery went great… My experience with everyone associated with my surgery has been wonderful. Doctor Vinay Badhwar is the BEST! Wonderful surgeon, extremely down to earth and compassionate. The entire staff at Osceola Regional Medical Center were just wonderful. — Matt Fountain


Dr. Vinay Badhwar - Matt's Surgeon
Dr. Vinay Badhwar – Matt’s Surgeon


Thanks to Matt for sharing his 40th birthday present with all the patients and caregivers at And, a special thanks to Dr. Vinay Badhwar, my heart surgeon, and his team for taking such great care of Matt.

Keep on tickin!

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.

Kathy Jamison-Patnode says on June 13th, 2011 at 5:36 pm

Yes Matt, you got the best birthday present ever! I had my bicuspid aortic valve replaced last year 2 months before my 40th birthday as well. To know that you’ve been given a new life is just awesome.
Hope you had a great birthday and continue to have a wonderful recovery!

Kerrigan says on June 13th, 2011 at 7:00 pm

Welcome to the club Matt!
And a fast recovery to you as well.

Greg says on June 13th, 2011 at 8:12 pm

Hi Matt! I had the EXACT same surgery as you last Sept. 30th with the same valve and the same graft to replace my aortic root that also had an aneurysm. I was 45 years old at the time, and I couldn’t ask to be doing any better! I have been on a couple of 30+ mile bike rides recently (which I never could have done before) and despite what some people might say, having to deal with the coumadin is really not a big deal. (considering the alternative, I am more than happy to get checked every few weeks!) Here’s wishing you a complete and speedy recovery!

Greg in Oregon

David Belisle says on June 14th, 2011 at 4:36 pm

Hi Matt. Happy B-Day!! I had the same surgery as you only I went with a porcine valve. I had the Medtronic Freestyle Aortic Root replacement surgery in November of 2009. I feel great and really have no physical limitations at all. Keep exercising and watch your diet and you’ll feel great in no time.

Rhonda Wilson says on June 23rd, 2011 at 7:08 pm

Adam, I’m having a very hard time finding many doctors on here that are in the dallas, TX area…do I need to leave the searc criteria completely open instead of narrowing it down?

Adam Pick says on June 23rd, 2011 at 7:13 pm

Hi Rhonda,

At, I just did a search for “Dallas” and found 4 surgeons in that city. If you search under just “Texas”, 22 surgeons were found.

Please remember that our database is relatively new and dependent upon patient feedback for search results. That said, it’s growing very quickly. We now have over 700 surgeon records provided by former patients.

I hope that helps!

Keep on tickin!

Paul Leopold says on February 22nd, 2012 at 10:27 pm

I also had the same surgery but my aneurysm burst on the operating table and the surgeons had to perform circulatory arrest. My surgeon was Dr. Dhruh Girard at Redmond Medical Center in Rome, GA. Operation was Jan. 16th, 2012 and I turned 47 on Feb. 6th. Still recovering but should be back at work sometime in April. Feeling great! God is good!

Mike Marcotte says on November 16th, 2012 at 8:34 pm

I am 44 years years old and I am going in for AVR on the 5th of December. They also have to replace my aortic root. All of you are an inspiration for me after just learning of this requirement, ( I learned of my regurgitating bicuspid valve and 4.9 cm aneurysm in September). After running several marathons and a tough mudder in the past few years it is great to hear the stories of all your success. Thanks for posting, it helps.

frank says on November 29th, 2012 at 10:25 pm

Hi Mike,

I hope you are home now and doing well. I had the same surgery 4/28/2010. That was also my 70th birthday. I feel great and I am back to enjoying my retirement. The warfarin monthly checkup are not a big deal.

Mike Marcotte says on January 5th, 2013 at 9:22 pm

Thanks for the reply, Frank. I am home and doing well. The surgical team at Brigham and Womens Hospital were excellent. Dr. Shekar performed the surgery. I was out of the hospital on Sunday and recovering well. Getting used to the tick but its better than no tick. Its amazing what they can do these days. This is a happy new year like no other.

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