Theoretical Physicist, Boris Kayser, Travels to New York for Mitral Valve Surgery & Bagels!

[This story is brought to you by the Mitral Foundation in collaboration with]

It’s not everyday I get a chance to meet a world-renowned, theoretical physicist who works at Fermilab.

So… When I heard that Boris Kayser, a guru in the field of Neutrinos, had a story to tell about his mitral valve repair surgery, I quickly jumped on the opportunity to film this educational video for the Mitral Foundation.



I’d like to thank Boris for taking the time to share his patient success story with me and our community. I really love what Boris says at the beginning of this video, “In the end, I believe that the person who is most in charge of his or her own health is the patient, so it is critically important for the patient to be as educated as possible. Knowing helps.”

I would also like to thank Dr. David Adams and Mount Sinai Hospital for taking such good care of Boris and his wife.  And, I would like to thank the Mitral Foundation for their support to film this story.

Keep on tickin’ Boris!

P.S. For the hearing impaired members of our community, I have provided a written transcript of my interview with Boris Kayser below:

In the end, I believe that the person who is most in charge of his or her own health is the patient, so it is critically important for the patient to be as educated as possible. Knowing helps.

I’m Boris Kayser, and I live in West Chicago. I’m a theoretical physicist, which means a physicist who tries to understand the nature of space, and time, and matter, and energy, and the building blocks of everything using pencil and paper.

I was told decades ago that I had mitral valve prolapse. In the 90s, I was told that my mitral valve had started to regurgitate, to leak. At the very end of the year 2012, I became highly symptomatic. I couldn’t walk up the 15 steps in our house from the first floor to the second without becoming short of breath and dizzy at the top. I was not able to conduct my work as usual.

So I went to my cardiologist and he said, “Yes, the time has come. You need to have cardiac surgery, and you should have it within a month.” I had anticipated it, and I had decided a long time in advance that should that day ever come, I want to be very, very careful about the choice of surgeon.

I have a good friend who started out to become a physicist but then decided to become an internist. He practiced in the New York City and was very well plugged in to the New York City medical community. My friend put me in touch with a patient of his who was himself a gastroenterologist surgeon and who had, at a certain point, needed cardiac surgery of his own. He researched the potential surgeons in the New York City area that I, not being a physician, could not, and he eventually settled, for reasons he described to me, on Dr. David Adams. After further discussion with him and with my friend, I decided that that would be a very good choice for myself.

The idea of traveling somewhere to have surgery was not so daunting to me, but that was not really a big deal, and I enjoy New York City bagels, and that was a bonus.

I had a very good impression of Dr. Adams. For one thing, he introduced himself not as, “I am Dr. So-and-so,” but, “Hi, I’m David Adams.” He struck me as very able and confident. I asked him at a certain point, “Suppose when you get in there, you find that you can’t repair this valve? You have to replace it. What are the relative advantages of an artificial valve or a valve from an animal,” and he said, “I’m going to repair it.” I like that in a physician.

In addition to repairing the mitral valve, Dr. Adams and his team repaired the tricuspid valve, bypassed two arteries. I also had cardiac arterial disease. One of my arteries was essentially completely blocked, and carried out a CryoMaze procedure to deal with arrhythmia issues (atrial fibrillation). All of that, in my wife’s words, while the hood was up.

Now I’m doing just fine. I travel a great deal as I love to do. I’m lecturing a great deal, as I love to do. I’m doing physics research, as I love to do. Everything is just fine.

Adam Pick
Written by Adam Pick

Adam Pick is a patient, author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery and the founder of

To learn how Adam has helped millions of people with heart valve disease, watch Adam's video, subscribe to his free newsletter, or visit his Facebook, or Twitter pages.

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