Thanks to the MitraClip, Michele Will Not Need a Heart Transplant!

By Adam Pick on January 24, 2019

Michele’s life was in jeopardy due to heart failure from severe mitral regurgitation.  She was so sick, her medical team was evaluating a heart transplant to save her life.

Then, Michele heard about the MitraClip.  This is her story…



How great is that?

I mean… Come on… How great is allllll of that?  Michele’s story… Her recovery… The COAPT Trial… And, the possibility of helping so many heart failure patients with the MitraClip!!!

I am so thankful that I had the chance to meet Michele and film her amazing story.  I wish her all the best as she returns to Western dancing, going to the gym and sitting around campfires.


Once again, my hat is off to Dr. Mark Ricciardi at Northwestern Medicine for his commitment to Michele and his relentless pursuit of healthy hearts through innovative technologies like the MitraClip.  I also need to thank the Abbott team for sponsoring the COAPT trial and creating such a wonderful device.

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P.S. For the hearing impaired members of our community, here is a written transcript of my interviews with Michele and Dr. Ricciardi:

Michele Golden: My name is Michele Golden and I’m from Batavia, Illinois. I do Western dancing and I also love to camp. I love going to the gym.  I’ve always worked out, and I couldn’t do those things with the way my heart was. I was diagnosed with a regurgitating mitral valve.

Dr. Mark Ricciardi: Heart valve disease is a big problem, especially as patients age. People live longer. When the valve leaflets don’t come together fully, the blood can backflow or regurgitate, and we have this term mitral regurgitation or mitral insufficiency, where the valve doesn’t work. That can lead to heart failure, death, terrible quality of life, and so it’s a real focus for many of us to try to treat this.

Michele Golden: I was taken to the ER; they noticed sarcoidosis in the heart – that was the pacemaker defibrillator and then my life was – I thought I was getting better and then all of a sudden, about a year and a half, I kept going repeatedly to the hospital.

Dr. Mark Ricciardi: Ms. Golden was unique in that the first time I met her, she was in the hospital, and she was in the hospital because she was sick. She was being evaluated for a possible left ventricular assist device, an artificial heart, or a heart transplant. Very difficult to keep her out of the hospital because of severe symptoms of heart failure. We were called and asked about whether a MitraClip might be effective in maybe reducing the number of hospitalizations she was getting, or maybe just temporizing or buying some time before she ultimately would need a left ventricular assist device or a transplant.

Michele Golden: I will never forget Dr. Ricciardi when he came to me and he looked into my eyes and he said, “Michele, I believe that we can fix this.”

Dr. Mark Ricciardi: She was very positive about the idea of treating her mitral valve with this MitraClip. Even knowing that we didn’t have a lot of experience with people who were as sick as she was and how they would respond to therapy, she was very positive, she wanted to get going on it, very impressive gal. One of the approaches to repairing the mitral valve through catheter-based approaches – sometimes we’ll call this transcatheter mitral valve repair – is to use a catheter-based technique to do what we call edge-to-edge leaflet attachment or edge-to-edge repair of the valve. Essentially what we’re doing here is we’re taking the leaflet edges and bringing them together. We might be able to reduce the amount of incompetence or leakage. We do this with a device called the MitraClip, which is a V-shaped device that pinches the edges of the leaflets and brings them together.

The other big development is this COAPT trial. We now have a trial that was really well-performed, very scientifically rigorous study that showed that the MitraClip improves outcomes in patients with heart failure and reduced ejection infection or enlarge a weakened heart. This is a big advance because many of these people have very regurgitatent or leaky valves, and the results that came out recently, this September, were really whoppingly positive. Not only did patients do better from a survival standpoint, but also had much less chance they would have to be re-hospitalized for heart failure. All of the quality of life metrics that were measured were improved by the MitraClip device when compared to aggressive medical therapy.

Michele Golden: My quality of life changed pretty much immediately. In two weeks, the breathing was very good. I was back at the gym. To me, it’s a miracle and I just feel so lucky that this opportunity came up.

Dr. Mark Ricciardi: It’s really remarkable how well she did, even immediately after the procedure; within days walking through the hallway. She was really doing well.

Michele Golden: I am very grateful for the team at Northwestern. They’re compassionate. They’re caring. They listen. I’m so appreciative and grateful for that experience.

Dr. Mark Ricciardi: I think the most important thing for the patient to know about the MitraClip is that it’s a safe and effective therapy for heart failure and for mitral regurgitation. In particular, they should know that there are certain centers that are expert in it, and that the treatment with this device is part of a broader approach to the patient, where good medical therapy is being used and where expert opinion about whether the device itself will help that particular patient. I think education about how the device is used and which patients will benefit is very, very important.


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.

helenthomasrocks says on January 24th, 2019 at 4:08 pm

OMG! What an amazing and dramatic story! Michele, I’m so happy for you and your loved ones. In our home we call the MirtraClip the “MiracleClip.” My mother lived until nearly 101-years old with a MitraClip, and when she passed it wasn’t from a cardiac issue.

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