“Why Did I Want A Mitral Valve Repair?” by Janet

By Adam Pick on May 3, 2018

In our community, patient interest specific to mitral valve repair surgery continues to grow.  To support that educational interest, I’ve attended workshops, traveled to conferences and published free eBooks dedicated to mitral valve reconstruction techniques.

During a recent trip to Chicago, I was super lucky to connect with Janet, a long-time member of our patient community.  Janet, Bill (her husband), and I had actually met at Patient Day a few years back.  As we sat together, it was very interesting to hear Janet’s story and the reasons she was so committed to having a mitral valve repair procedure.  Here’s what Janet had to say…



Many thanks to Janet for being such a wonderful and supportive member of our community.  I am so thrilled to hear that she is doing so well after her mitral valve repair.  Also… A special thanks to Dr. McCarthy, her surgeon, and the entire team at Northwestern Medicine that took care of Janet.  Another successful outcome!

Keep on tickin!

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

Janet Ruddock: My name is Janet Ruddock. I’m 58 years old, and I live in Warrenville, Illinois. I’m a programmer, and I work in Information Technology. My quality of life was deteriorating. My heart would pound out of my chest so hard, and shortness of breath just going up a flight of stairs at home. I developed heart palpitations, had a chronic cough, and dizziness even while at rest. I was diagnosed with severe mitral regurgitation.


Bill, Janet & Me in Chicago


Dr. McCarthy: Mitral regurgitation is the most common valve disease that we see. Right now, it’s impacting about 2% of the population. What happens is that the valve every heartbeat should hit together like this, and then eventually when it prolapses, one part goes right past the other one, and it’s like a parachute with broken strings.

Dr. Thomas: Now, the most common cause of organic mitral regurgitation, where there’s an actual abnormality of the mitral valve itself, is from myxomatous mitral valve degeneration, and it commonly manifests itself in mitral valve prolapse, which is something that the population has generally heard about. You need to quantify the degree of regurgitation.

For instance, in Mrs. Ruddock, she had a very eccentric jet of mitral regurgitation, which means that it shoots up along the wall of the left atrium there, and forms a very thin jet, but we can tell by looking at other components of the echo, there was severe regurgitation.

Dr. McCarthy: Mrs. Ruddock had the leaky valve, and she had symptoms that were related to it, and we knew based on the echo that it was the kind of a valve that we could repair.


The HVS Community at Edwards Lifesciences (Janet’s Holding the Heart)


Janet Ruddock: My procedure was mitral valve repair, open heart surgery with a median sternotomy. I absolutely wanted to be a candidate for mitral valve repair. With a replacement, it’s possible you can be on blood thinners for the rest of your life, and possibility of having another surgery. We found Dr. Patrick McCarthy through our thorough research. He is definitely the surgeon that I wanted to have for my surgery.

Dr. McCarthy: In cardio surgery, we’re evolving to this idea about having a mitral valve center of excellence, or a reference center, where we really kind of concentrate the experience. We want to help determine what are the centers where they get the best results, and where the risk is very low for patients, and the results are very durable.

Janet Ruddock: My experience at Northwestern was fantastic. All the staff at Northwestern throughout the whole process, from administration all the way through to being discharged at the curbside, everyone was just fantastic.

Dr. McCarthy: Mrs. Ruddock was great. She went home a few days after her surgery, and she had a quick recovery, and she’s doing well. There’s a few things in medicine and in heart surgery where you can fix stuff and it pretty much is going to stay fixed. It’s pretty rare that people come back again, so that makes it well worth going to work every morning.


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 HeartValveSurgery.com 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 HeartValveSurgery.com 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.

rubart says on May 3rd, 2018 at 2:15 pm

As you’ve probably heard by now, repair of a mitral valve–if at all possible–is far preferable to replacement. So if your initial surgeon-candidate says it can’t be repaired, get a second opinion–especially from a surgeon who’s very experienced in repairing them. My own surgeon (my “second opinion” surgeon) said he wouldn’t know if he could repair my mitral valve till he “got in there.” But then he added, “I’ve repaired worse than yours.” So I knew I was in good hands. And his first words to me post-op were, “We repaired it.” That’s the kind of surgeon you want.

Since we’re talking about second opinions, I can’t help remembering a Rodney Dangerfield joke. He’d gone to his doctor for his annual physical, and when it was over, the doctor said, “Your heart’s barely able to function, your lungs are collapsing, your liver’s almost completely scarred and your kidneys are shutting down. I give you six months.”

Rodney: “I want a second opinion!”

Doctor: “Okay. You’re ugly too.”

Bob Dye says on May 3rd, 2018 at 4:29 pm

I had my mitral valve repaired via a minimally invasive procedure in 2014 at age 58. My magnificent surgeon used Gortex to replace the broken chordae tendineae (the “heart strings”), and the only issue I have now is I find myself wanting to go camping all the time. 😍

Leon Olsovi says on May 3rd, 2018 at 8:45 pm

that’s a very common sign of a happy heart…good for you!

Gilda Kraus says on May 4th, 2018 at 9:52 am

2013 my husband (76 now) has the mitral valve and the aorta valve reconstructed replaced in Zurich, he is feeling well except that he has almost permanent atrial fibrillation (generally asymptomatic). I have read here of the possibility to fall in another surgery, why and how often.
Thank you for all
M. Polli

marina says on October 25th, 2018 at 5:35 pm

were you did surgery?

Bob Dye says on October 26th, 2018 at 8:02 am

Dr. David A Heimansohn performed my mitral valve repair at The St. Vincent Heart Center in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Bob Dye says on October 26th, 2018 at 8:05 am

Indeed, although the comment was meant as a joke; you know, a lot of camping gear is made of Gortex therefore since I too am now partly constructed of Gortex… Cheers!

disqus_LWyB5RUAW5 says on January 6th, 2019 at 12:45 am

BobJDye more

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