Patient Update: 5 Years After Aortic Valve Replacement Surgery, Jim Is ‘Not Putting Things Off’

By Adam Pick on August 3, 2012

My inbox continues to receive success stories from patients all over the world — especially after Theresa’s recent post.

In particular, I received a note from Jim Bonk, an aortic valve and root replacement patient from San Diego, California. So you know, Jim posted the first ‘Guest Blog’ at way back in 2007. That said, I was excited to open Jim’s email.


Jeanne & Jim Bonk – Aortic Valve Replacement Patient In Russia


Well… Five years after surgery, Jim’s positive attitude towards his surgery and his ‘Second Chance’ at life continues.

Here is what Jim wrote to me:


Hi Adam – Congratulations on your new edition of your book!  I have referred it to at least five people since my surgery in November of 2007. The surgery encouraged me to not put things off and just go ahead and do them.  I still work a lot but have taken some pretty great vacations, including China (2010) and Russia (2009).  Attached is a picture of Jeanne and me in Red Square in front of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. Best regards to you and your family – Jim Bonk


In his email, Jim also asked me, “Adam – In your ongoing research for your book, have you ever run across a cardiologist or cardiac surgeon that had a valve replacement?  I would be interested to hear their thoughts on artificial vs. tissue valve — especially if their replacement was related to a bicuspid aortic valve like mine.”

The answer to Jim’s questions is, “Yes”.

Dr. Larry Cohn, a leading cardiac surgeon at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, had aortic valve replacement surgery using a tissue valve in 1997. Specific to Jim’s question, Dr. Cohn did not have a bicuspid aortic valve. Thirteen years after surgery, Dr. Cohn continues to practice. So you know, many patients from our community have had excellent surgical results with Dr. Cohn including David Kelliher, Tim Jensen, Jeff Ayers and Maggie McGee.

Thanks to Jim for sharing the good news about his travels and I’m glad we could answer Jim’s question about cardiac surgeons needing heart valve replacement operations.

Keep on tickin’ Jim!

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.

Helen Evans says on August 7th, 2012 at 8:30 am

Love your Book. Had my Aortic Valve replaced 05/31/2012. Doing fine.

Joseph says on August 7th, 2012 at 2:35 pm

Dear Adam,

GOD Bless you for all the work you’ve done for people like us. You made your TEST, your Testimonial. That will never be forgotten.

I just celebrated my 1 year anniversary since my aortic valve replacement performed by Dr. Craig Smith at New York Presbyterian. I opted for a tissue valve, Bovine to be exact. Thank GOD I’ve made a full recovery. I play 2-3 hours of tennis, both singles and doubles 3 times a week. I’m also jogging again, and working out vigorously in the gym to keep myself strong and healthy to play competitive tennis. My question to you, and to all of us out there is this: can a replacement valve go bad because of extensive use during exercise?

EDWARDS claims the valve can last 25-30 years, perhaps longer. But is that projection for a sedentary individual, or an athlete? I’d like to know.

All the best, Joe Maniscalco, New York.

Michael says on August 11th, 2012 at 3:57 pm

I had my Aortic Valve repaired in January of 2012 @ the Cleveland Clinic. I want anybody that has an issue with their Aortic Valve to consider all options and do your research! I have a little bit of an unusual situation. I was a National caliber athlete and at the time even up to my surgery I was training World Class UFC fighter. I would train in all aspects of fighting with them. I went into surgery in very good condition (12-15% body fat). I don’t know how crazy this is but I worked out less than a week later(after surgery). In 2 weeks I did 50 push ups ( that hurts after open heart) 2 weeks after that I did 100 straight no pain! I started playing basketball. I also started to wrestle and did jiu jitsu. It seemed the harder I pushed the faster I healed! I have practically no scar! Most people have no idea I even had the surgery! Don’t get me wrong it sucked but I treated it as a challenge, both physically and mentally. I’m back to doing everything now! To me I had to treat it like no different than any other injury! Heck! It’s just a Heart!


kausar s khan says on August 24th, 2012 at 5:49 am

Really appreciate the information/news. would like to know the age of those who have undergone aortic valve replacement. My mother is 85, and needs this surgery. family is unable to decide bcause of the uncertainty of the pace of recovery . she is currenlty asymptomatic and quality of life is satisfactory.

JP says on September 7th, 2012 at 8:15 am

I Had 3 aorta valve replacements and 1 Aorta replacement My first aorta vavlve replacement was 40 years ago and I am doing well

Toby Bautert says on July 28th, 2018 at 9:35 am

I know its been a while, but has a dr ever told you to stay clear of exercises where you have to strain? I hear your story, and I hear doctors say something to the effect to not do things where you have to grunt. I do not body build, but I do lift weights..tons of push-ups and am waiting for my sternum to heal to get back at it. Just wondering what your advise was? Thank you.

Toby Bautert says on July 28th, 2018 at 9:40 am

Did you ever find any information on this? i am told my valve I just go will last forever. I want to get back to how I use to live (exercise/working). I use to approach things with brute force;) So, I am wondering what my best options are. Thanks for you reply.

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