Adam's Heart Valve Surgery Blog – Page 38

Ethan Readies For The College Football Season!

By Adam Pick on August 29, 2011

Thanks to all of you who continue to ask for the latest Ethan update!

As you can see, our little 2-year old, is getting ready for football season. Like his dad, Ethan is a Michigan Wolverine fan. He already has the “Go Blue!” fist pump ready for the opener next Saturday.

Child Wearing Michigan Slippers
Ethan Pick Readies For Football Saturday

But, in all seriousness, Ethan is thriving. He’s talking non-stop and going through the early stages of… potty training! Robyn, my wife, and I are exhausted. However, we are having the time of our lives watching him grow up.

Keep on tickin!

“Can My Sternum Wires Cause Chest Pain Two Years After Heart Valve Surgery?” Asks Jake

By Adam Pick on August 23, 2011

I just received a very interesting question from Jake about chest pain, sternum wires and heart valve surgery.

Jake writes to me, “Dear Adam – It’s been 2 years since my aortic valve replacement operation. While my heart is doing great, I still have a very sensitive incision. There are spots along my sternum that, if I press on, cause a shot of pain. My chest also hurts if I twist in odd ways. Is it possible that the sternum wires are causing this discomfort. If so, can I get them taken out? Is that a big procedure? Thanks! Jake”


Sternum Wireds On Chest Xray


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What Do Jeff, Mitral Valve Repair, 365 Days & Cabernet Sauvignon Have In Common?

By Adam Pick on August 7, 2011

It is one of the best moments of my day.

I click on an unopened email to find a touching patient success story. This inspirational note comes from Dr. Jeff Pirofsky who just celebrated his one-year anniversary from a mitral valve repair operation. Jeff writes to me:


Jeff Pirofsky In Hospital On Cell Phone
Dr. Jeff Pirofsky – Mitral Valve Repair Patient


Dear Adam –

I just wanted to thank you for all the help that you gave me last year.

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Special Research Update: “Is Your Surgeon Likely To Perform Mitral Valve Repair?” With Dr. Steven Bolling

By Adam Pick on July 27, 2011

Over the years, I’ve received several patient testimonials for Dr. Steven Bolling. While I had never met Dr. Bolling, I was fortunate to attend his lecture, “Mitral Valve Repair Predictability” at the Mitral Conclave. I found many elements of his presentation VERY important for patients facing heart valve surgery. That said, I was lucky to meet with Dr. Bolling to discuss his findings.



Thanks to Dr. Steven Bolling, heart surgeon, for taking the time to share his research with us. So you know, Dr. Bolling is the director of The Mitral Valve Center at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. During his 27-year career, Dr. Bolling has performed over 8,000 cardiac operations — with over 2,500 procedures involving the mitral valve.

For the members of our community that are hearing impaired, I have provided a written transcript of this video interview with Dr. Bolling below.

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One Step Closer To FDA Approval For SAPIEN Aortic Valve?

By Adam Pick on July 26, 2011

Within our patient and caregiver community, there is great excitement about transcatheter aortic valve replacement technology. These non-invasive approaches for aortic stenosis treatment are often described with adjectives including revolutionary and transformational.


Edwards SAPIEN Heart Valve Replacement


I wanted to relay new information about the FDA approval process for one of these percutaneous devices, the SAPIEN aortic valve replacement by Edwards Lifesciences. This valve, which does not require an incision to the sternum or ribs for implant, received two favorable votes from an advisory panel of cardiologists which reviewed its most recent clinical trial:

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Facing Congestive Heart Failure, Mildred Burns, 83, Considers Heart Valve Replacement Surgery ‘The Best Decision Ever Made’

By Adam Pick on July 16, 2011

I just received an insightful email from Mildred Burns. At 83, Mildred was facing congestive heart failure and desperately needed an aortic valve replacement. I thought you might appreciate reading these encouraging words from Mildred about fear, a second heart surgery and quality of life…


Dr. Khan & Mildred Burns In Hospital
Mildred Burns, 83, with Dr. Junaid Khan


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Surgeon Spotlight: After 7,000 Surgeries, Dr. Kevin Accola’s Heart Valve Specialty Is Praised By Patients

By Adam Pick on July 12, 2011

It’s an honor to shine our surgeon spotlight on Dr. Kevin Accola, a leading heart valve surgeon who practices at the Florida Hospital Cardiovascular Institute.

I first met Dr. Accola in 2008. I called Dr. Accola after several of his patients emailed me their fantastic success stories. During our chat, I quickly learned that Dr. Accola is a super nice guy and a very accomplished surgeon. As you can read on Dr. Accola’s surgeon profile, he has performed over 7,400 cardiac procedures and over 2,400 heart valve operations. Mitral valve repair is one of Dr. Accola’s specialties.



Over the years, I have become very familiar with many of Dr. Accola’s patients including Donna Wilson, Scott Niemen, Misti Blue and Denise Ring. Dr. Accola’s patients often use words like “warm”, “calm”, “humble”, “caring” and “confident” to describe his personality.

For example, Duane Hunt, a recent mitral valve repair patient, recently shared with me…

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After Michael’s Heart Valve Replacement, The Rogers Family Turn Lemons Into “Lemon-Aid”

By Adam Pick on July 6, 2011

I am consistently inspired by the patients and caregivers that make-up this community.

For example… I just learned that the Rogers family, from Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, recently held a fundraiser to raise awareness for Heart Valve Journals, our social network, and our charitable efforts.  As you might know, Michael Rogers, 18, underwent pulmonary heart valve replacement surgery on June 2, 2011.


Teenager Patient In Hospital


In a journal posted yesterday, Linda Rogers, Michael’s mother, writes, “It seems like just yesterday I began this Journal so that we could keep our dear family and friends updated on Michael’s progress through the surgery and recovery period. It’s been 35 days since Michael’s surgery and we’re so thankful and blessed that he is doing great!”


“Lemon-Aid” At The Rogers 4th of July Golf Cart Parade


As for their charitable support of, Linda writes:

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Web Chat: “Heart Valve Disease” With Drs. Thomas & Sabik

By Adam Pick on July 5, 2011

Hi everybody,

If you are searching for answers to questions about heart valve disease, I encourage you to attend, “Heart Valve Disease”, a live interactive chat with Dr. Thomas and Dr. Sabik from the Cleveland Clinic.



During this unique, one-hour event several topics specific to valvular disorders, including aortic stenosis and mitral regurgitation, will be discussed. Here is a quick summary of the event along with registration instructions.

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“Is It Common To Have Mitral Regurgitation & Atrial Fibrillation?” Asks Donny

By Adam Pick on July 5, 2011

I received a great email from Donny about atrial fibrillation and heart valve surgery. Donny asked me, “Adam – I’ve suffered from a-fib longer than I can remember. Now, I need mitral valve surgery due to mitral regurgitation. My heart is already dilated. Am I an anomaly or this common?”

Luckily, I was able to ask Donny’s question directly to Dr. Patrick McCarthy, the chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. As Dr. McCarthy has performed over 4,000 heart valve procedures and maintains a clinical focus on atrial fibrillation, I thought you might like to hear Dr. McCarthy’s response…



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Today, My Thoughts Are With Jeff, Tammy & Kent

By Adam Pick on June 29, 2011

I just visited Heart Valve Journals, our interactive community where patients meet and learn from each other. While clicking through many of these amazing journals, guestbooks and photo sections, I noticed that during the next 24 hours Tammy, Jeff & Kent will be going in for heart valve surgery.



Jeff Roemer needs a new aortic valve. Tammy Golchert is undergoing mitral valve repair. And, Kent Kersey needs an aortic valve replacement and root reconstruction. If you like, feel free to visit their Heart Valve Journals by clicking their names above.

My thoughts and prayers are with Tammy, Jeff and Kent.

Keep on tickin!

Pat Gets Her “Bucket List” Wish During Double Heart Valve Surgery

By Adam Pick on June 28, 2011

I’m not sure the Human Genome Project detected it, but I think we all maintain a unique gene that enables us to wish. Some people wish for peace. Some people wish for wealth. Most people, in this community, wish for healthy hearts.

Interestingly, Pat Studebaker had a lifelong wish to witness a heart surgery. Thanks to the Never Too Late organization and Doctor Marc Gerdisch, MD, Pat got her wish last week.


Surgeon Holding Plastic Heart With Patient
Dr. Marc Gerdisch Explains Heart Valve Surgery To Pat Studebaker


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“Is There A Trend Favoring Tissue Heart Valve Replacements?” Asks Jenny

By Adam Pick on June 25, 2011

When evaluating surgical options for a heart valve replacement procedure, a common patient concern is selecting the “right” mechanical or tissue valve. Specific to this topic, Jenny recently wrote to me, “Hi Adam – I’m 38 years old and need aortic valve replacement surgery. The durability of a mechanical valve is attractive but it seems like so many people, of all ages, are getting tissue valves. Is that a trend that I should be paying attention to?”

I was very fortunate to ask Dr. Richard Shemin, cardiac surgeon and the Professor and Chairman of Cardiothoracic Surgery at UCLA Medical Center, this exact question. Here are the highlights from our discussion.



Thanks to Jenny for her question and a special thanks to Dr. Shemin for taking the time to discuss this important question with our community.

For those patients who are hearing impaired, I have provided a written, video transcript of my discussion with Dr. Shemin below.

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After MitraClip Implant, Kato Celebrates Her 94th Birthday!

By Adam Pick on June 24, 2011

Although the MitraClip was recently recalled, one of our favorite patient success stories continues to be Kato Pomer from Los Angeles. As you might recall, Kato underwent a MitraClip procedure two years ago following a quick onset of severe mitral regurgitation.


Successful MitraClip Patient
Kato Pomer, 94, Mitral Valve Repair Patient


Yesterday, I learned that Kato just celebrated her 94th birthday. That said, I wanted to wish Kato a very, very, very happy birthday!

Keep on tickin’ Kato!

“Why Is Mitral Valve Repair Preferred To Mitral Valve Replacement?” Asks Donald

By Adam Pick on June 21, 2011

Recently, I received a great question from Donald, a 64-year old patient, who suffers from mitral valve regurgitation. While evaluating his surgical options, Donald asked me, “Adam – My research suggests that mitral valve repair surgery is preferred to mitral valve replacement… Why is that?”

I was very fortunate to discuss Donald’s question with Dr. David H. Adams, a leading heart valve surgeon who specializes in mitral valve reconstruction, at the Mitral Conclave in New York City.




Thanks to Donald for his question and a special thanks to Dr. David Adams for his ongoing support of our community. To learn more about Dr. Adams, who is the Chairman of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital, please click here.

If you are hearing impaired, I have provided a transcript of this video interview below.

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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.)

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Technology Update: First Human Implant of Portico Transcatheter Aortic Heart Valve Replacement

By Adam Pick on June 13, 2011

On the heels of the FDA approval for its Trifecta heart valve replacement, St. Jude Medical just announced that Dr. John Webb of St. Paul’s Hospital in Canada has completed the first human implant of the new Portico aortic valve replacement.


Transcatheter Portico Aortic Heart Valve Replacement
Portico TAVR Valve


The Portico heart valve replacement falls into a “next generation” category of transcatheter devices that do not require the patient’s sternum or ribs to be broken during implant – via median sternotomy or thoracotomy. Instead, the Portico aortic valve replacement is implanted in the heart using a catheter inserted through the femoral artery or the left ventricle.

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“Can Aortic Stenosis Progress From Moderate To Severe In Just Two Years?” Asks Peter

By Adam Pick on June 8, 2011

I just received an interesting question from Peter about the progression of aortic stenosis. Peter writes, “Adam, I was diagnosed with moderate aortic stenosis two years ago. Unfortunately, I lost my job and have not had an echo in several years. I’m experiencing shortness of breath. Is it possible that the severity of stenosis has progressed that quickly?”

While at the recent American Association for Thoracic Surgeons meeting in Philadelphia, I was fortunate to ask Dr. Junaid Khan, MD, from Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, this exact question. During our discussion, Dr. Khan provided some chilling data about aortic stenosis, its progression, its symptoms and mortality associated with this disease.



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Are Medical Tourists Seeking Heart Valve Treatment In Germany?

By Adam Pick on June 6, 2011

Considering that over 45 million residents of the United States do not have health insurance, my inbox is filled with questions about the costs of heart valve surgery. Many of those emails inquire about the use of foreign, cardiac centers for valvular treatment.


Medical Tourists To India For Heart Surgery
Medical Tourists For Mitral Valve Repair – Robin Steel & Ros Hernmarck


As you may already know, several patients within this community have traveled abroad with positive results. For example, Robin Steel and Ros Hernmarck both traveled to India for mitral valve repair surgery. Recently, however, I’ve learned that facilities in Europe are offering medical tourism packages which compete on quality, cost and access to “next-generation” technologies.

To learn more about heart valve surgery programs in Germany, I contacted Dr. Juergen Ennker, chief of cardiothoracic surgery at MediClin Heart Center, which is close to Frankfurt. Here are the highlights of my interview with Dr. Ennker.


Dr. Jurgen Ennker, Heart Surgeon
Dr. Juergen Ennker, Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery, MediClin Heart Center


Adam: Dr. Ennker thanks so much for chatting with me today.

Dr. Juergen Ennker: I have to thank you Adam. You are increasing the quality of care for heart valve patients around the world.

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Judy Receives Over 1,110 Comments At!

By Adam Pick on June 4, 2011

In my opinion, this is quite inspiring and extraordinary…

I just spent some time at — our social network created for heart valve surgery patients and their caregivers. While there, I clicked on Judy Fridono’s journal to see how she was doing after her mitral valve replacement and quadruple bypass operation. (Click here to learn more about replacing the mitral valve.)


Heart Valve Surgery Patient In and Out Of Hospital
Judy Fridono


I was happy to see that Judy is continuing to recover after her surgery. At 12 weeks post-op, Judy writes, “I guess I’m feeling pretty good. I’d say I’m 90% back to normal. Unfortunately, I don’t have more energy than I did pre-surgery.”

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