Adam's Heart Valve Surgery Blog – Page 61

After Double Heart Valve Surgery And Aortic Root Repair, Jonathan Smiles In Traffic

By Adam Pick on April 11, 2009

Talk about an incredible, patient attitude towards heart valve surgery? I thought all of you might appreciate reading about Jonathan Abramson… Here is Jonathan’s story:

Hi Adam,

I am 29 years old and just had my second heart surgery.  I was born with a congenital diseased aorta. Growing up, this never affected my lifestyle.  I was always a very active person and played sports in high school. After college in 2002, I had a mechanical aortic valve replacement. Everything was fine, until a few years later when a routine echo discovered a 5.7cm aortic aneurysm that was partially caused by my initial mechanical valve being too small for my body.


Jonathan Abramson After Heart Valve Surgery Recovery
Jonathan Abramson – Double Heart Valve Surgery Patient


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Introducing… Ethan Bradley Pick

By Adam Pick on April 8, 2009

You may have noticed that my blog postings about heart valve surgery have stopped over the past five days.

Well… There is a good, 7.6 pound reason for that!

My son, Ethan Bradley Pick, was born Saturday at 5:29am. Ethan is the first child for Robyn, my wife, and me. Needless to say, we are rapidly adjusting to the parenting role – an outpouring of love and appreciation for every little thing he does including burps, wiggles, hiccups, stretches, coos, yawns, poops, toots… I could go on and on and on. So far, the lack of sleep is an easy trade-off for the love we have for our little boy.


Ethan Bradley Pick As A Baby
Ethan Bradley Pick – Born April 4, 2009


Thanks so much for all of your thoughtful support during our pregnancy. As we consider all of you an extended part of our family, I have attached a few pictures which capture Ethan’s entry into this world.

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After Delayed Stroke, Jeff Gets Recovery Back On Track

By Adam Pick on March 31, 2009

As a follow-up to an earlier blog about stroke and heart surgery (see “Is Stroke A Risk During Heart Surgery?“), I just received this patient update from Jeff. You can tell that Jeff’s positive attitude is going to help him throughout his recovery. Here is what he writes:

Hi Adam,

My name is Jeff Stoveken and I am 46 years old.  I was diagnosed with a bicuspid aortic valve at age 40.  It was discovered during a routine physical when my doctor heard a murmur.  It was confirmed with an echocardiogram.


Jeff Stoveken – Heart Valve Surgery Patient


In August of 2008, during a visit to the emergency room for some chest pains, I was diagnosed with a five centimeter aortic aneurysm. One month later I had my valve replaced, along with a section of my aorta containing the aneurysm, by Dr. John Brown, III at Morristown Memorial Hospital in New Jersey.  I have a St. Jude’s Mechanical valve.

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In Memory Of George Soldan… And, His Durable Aortic Pig Valve

By Adam Pick on March 30, 2009

I often tell patients that heart valve surgery should be perceived as a medical miracle.

“Why?” you may be wondering.

Well, it is through valvular surgery that many, many, many, many of us will live longer, healthier lives. My readers constantly reinforce this belief. These days, it seems as if every time I click my inbox, I receive an inspirational, patient story relating to valve repair or valve replacement.

Interesting Case In Point… George Soldan


George Soldan – Heart Valve Surgery Patient In 1976


The story of George Soldan was just sent to me by Sharon, his daughter. I thought you might enjoy learning about the positive impact of a pig valve replacement surgery performed in 1976… over 32 years ago.

Here is what Sharon writes:

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OFF-TOPIC: Baby Pick Is Almost Here!!!

By Adam Pick on March 30, 2009

Thanks so much for your emails about the anticipated arrival of Baby Pick.

If you didn’t know… Robyn, my very pregnant wife, and I wife are expecting our first child, a baby boy, to arrive somewhere around April 13. As you would imagine, we are incredibly excited and somewhat nervous.

Robyn and I have been “nesting” like crazy. Everyday now, I’m assembling something for the little guy. First, the stroller. Then, his swing. Then, his car seat. Then, some furniture. Then, some more furniture. Then, it was time to hang the shelves. It doesn’t stop!

The best part is… Robyn and I are having A LOT of fun getting the nursery all set up.


Robyn – After We Assembled The Stroller


As for classes, we just finished our breastfeeding class last night. And, we recently finished our birthing class. To be safe, we also took an infant CPR class.

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Dr. Craig Miller Performs Successful Aortic Valve Surgery On Aaron Boone

Written By: Adam Pick, Patient Advocate, Author & Website Founder
Page last updated: November 7, 2023

Good news!

Houston Astros’ infielder Aaron Boone had successful aortic valve repair and root replacement surgery last Thursday. The operation was performed by doctor Dr. Craig Miller in Palo Alto, California at Stanford Medical Center.


Aaron Boone - Aortic Valve Surgery By Dr. Craig Miler
Aaron Boone – Heart Valve Surgery Patient


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After Aortic Valve Replacement, Mavis Shares Four Heart Surgery Lessons

By Adam Pick on March 27, 2009

Here’s an interesting email I just received from Mavis. Nine weeks after heart valve replacement, Mavis has created four, key “heart valve surgery lessons” to share with our community. Here is what she writes:

Hello Adam,

My aortic valve replacement is 9 weeks behind me!  My follow up visit to the cardiologist and surgeon have reassured me that my tissue valve will probably last longer than I will (I am 67), that my chest is healing normally, that I’m not going to die, and life will eventually be better than before.


Mavis – Nine Weeks After Heart Valve Replacement


There were a couple of things that, prior to my surgery, would have fallen into the category of “things I really don’t want to know” but with hindsight, I wish now I had.  I hope they will be useful for your readers who are anticipating open heart surgery.

Things I wish I had known:

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“What Is Life Like On Coumadin?” Asks Mary Anne

By Adam Pick on March 27, 2009

Use of Coumadin for patients that select a mechanical valve replacement is typically required to prevent blood clots. As a result, many pre-surgical patients considering a mechanical valve (versus a tissue valve) often wonder, “What is life like on Coumadin?”

In the last 24 hours, I have received this question from 5 different patients and two caregivers. One of those patients thinking about Coumadin and mechanical valves is Mary Anne.




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Pig Valve Replacement Humor… Thanks Kerrigan!

By Adam Pick on March 27, 2009

I’m not a fan of overused cliches. However, if there is one cliche I never get tired of it is, “Laughter is the best form of medicine.”

That said, Kerrigan just sent me this pig valve replacement cartoon that got a good chuckle out of me. Without further ado, I hope this injects some laughter medicine into your veins:


Pig Valve Cartoon


Keep on tickin’ and laughin!!!

On-X Valve Replacement Manufacturer To Double Operations

By Adam Pick on March 27, 2009

I recently learned that the manufacturer of On-X heart valve devices is going to double the size of its operations in Austin, Texas. The parent company, On-X Life Technologies (ON-X LTI), signed a building lease for over 40,000 square feet due to the result of increased demand for its On-X mechanical valves for mitral valve and aortic valve replacement.



”We continue to experience increasing acceptance of the On-X heart valve in the United States and around the world,” said Clyde Baker, On-X LTI president and CEO. “The relocation of our operation to this larger facility will permit us to expand our manufacturing capacity to meet this demand.”

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WOW!!! Over 273 Heart Valve Surgeon Profiles Already Uploaded!!!

By Adam Pick on March 25, 2009

Great news regarding the launch of our heart valve surgeon database!!!

I’m very excited to share that our new, FREE database already has over 273 surgeon profiles uploaded! In less than one week, patients from around the world – including the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, India, Singapore, Malaysia, Mexico, South Africa, Thailand, Israel, Canada and Mauritius – have uploaded their surgeon information and their feedback.

Thanks so much for your help everybody!!! I know this very unique, heart valve surgeon database is going to help many future patients and caregivers for years-and-years-and-years-and-years to come!



As I wrote earlier, the FIRST STEP of this process is to upload as many surgeon profiles as possible to the database.

That said, if you are a former valve surgery patient and would like to add your surgeon profile, please click here!

The SECOND STEP will be making the database available to everybody for use. This will happen next week when we officially launch our own version of “Google” for heart valve surgeons.

Keep on tickin!

“Who Was Robin Williams’ Heart Surgeon?” Asks Tammy

By Adam Pick on March 23, 2009

I’m not sure if you have followed the latest news coverage of Robin Williams’s heart valve surgery…

But, earlier today it was confirmed that Robin Williams had double heart valve surgery on March 13, 2009 at The Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. While initial reports suggested that Robin Williams would only need aortic valve replacement surgery, the Oscar-winning actor and comedian also had his mitral valve repaired.


Robin Williams – Aortic And Mitral Valve Surgery Patient


Tammy wrote me earlier today asking, “Who was Robin Williams surgeon?”

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Does Rob Lowe Have Cardiac Depression After Heart Surgery?

By Adam Pick on March 23, 2009

I don’t know if you like the television show Brothers and Sisters, Sunday nights on ABC. But, Robyn (my very pregnant wife) and I really enjoy watching the trials-and-tribulations of the Walker family.

“Why is Adam writing about Brothers and Sisters?” you may be scratching your head and thinking.

Well… On Brothers and Sisters, Rob Lowe plays the role of Robert McCallister – an eager politician striving to balance the demands of running for governor, fatherhood and his wife, Calista Flockhart (aka Kitty Walker). Recently, Lowe’s character had an unexpected heart attack and cardiac bypass procedure.


Rob Lowe's Character On Brother's And Sister's Experience Cardiac Depression
Rob Lowe After Heart Surgery On Brothers And Sisters


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Certified Dog Therapist, Dyno, Visits Erik In Hospital

By Adam Pick on March 23, 2009

I could not resist posting this very, very, very interesting note from Erik. I never knew that certified dog therapists existed!


I just created a surgeon profile for Dr. Vib Kshettry, Minneapolis Heart Institute, in your surgeon database. I would also give kudos to my cardiologist, Dr. Kevin Graham at the Minneapolis Heart Institute.  They have a heck-of-a-team and clinic there. I just don’t have enough positive adjectives to describe these two physicians.

As a “young” patient at the age of 37, open heart surgery was very scary.  It gave me peace-of-mind to know I had the best-of-the-best. It was a year ago and I feel great.


Dyno, Dog Therapist Visits Heart Surgery Patient and Owner, Erik
Erik, With Dyno, The Dog Therapist, After Heart Surgery


Just for fun……I attached a photo of my first day out of ICU.  Our dog, Dyno, is a certified animal “therapist” and my wife takes her to several hospitals and visits.  This visit was personal.  She actually stayed a couple hours and just slept with me.

Hope all is well with you.


“When Is The Heart And Sternum Healed?” Asks Kerrigan

By Adam Pick on March 19, 2009

Earlier today, Kerrigan and I exchanged emails about the recovery from open heart surgery. Specifically, we discussed the physical healing of the broken sternum and the heart.

In one of his emails, Kerrigan wrote, “I was wondering how long after surgery is the heart considered “healed” as far as the incisions and reattachment of aorta? Thanks, Kerrigan”


Open Heart Surgery Diagram With Chest Retracted


While I have some pretty good thoughts, research and experience on the healing time required for a stitched heart and broken sternum, I am ALWAYS APPREHENSIVE about issuing estimates for patient healing and recovery.

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Heart Trivia: How Much Blood Does Your Heart Pump Each Day?

By Adam Pick on March 18, 2009

Any guesses as to how much blood your heart pumps each day?

Need a hint? It’s more than 10 gallons.

Need another hint? It’s more than 100 gallons.

To find out how much blood your heart pumps each-and-every day of your life… Scroll down below the beating heart animation.



According to The Texas Heart Institute, most healthy hearts can pump up to 2,000 gallons of blood during each twenty-four hour period. Isn’t that incredible?

I just did the math. During the time you just read this blog (I assumed one minute), your heart pumped 1.38 gallons of blood through your body!!!

Why am I writing about this? Well… This is exactly why our heart valves need to function properly. If our valves do not open-and-close tightly, the heart needs to pump even more blood which puts additional strain on the heart. If the heart “works overtime” for long periods of time, the cardiac muscle can thicken, dilate and, ultimately, fail.

Keep on tickin!

Even With Recovery Challenges, Josh Feels “New Lease On Life” After Heart Valve Surgery

By Adam Pick on March 16, 2009

Here is an insightful, patient story about Josh from Oregon. As you can read below, Josh offers a unique glimpse into some of the common challenges and opportunities patients experience during early heart surgery recovery. I say “early” because Josh had his operation less than two weeks ago.


Hey there! Just dropping you a note that the “hardest” part is over.

I had my aortic valve replacement and ascending aortic aneurysm repair done on Thursday, March 5th at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland, Oregon. I just filled out your online surgeon database questionnaire so that I could highly recommend my surgeon, Dr. Storm Floten of the Starr-Wood Cardiac Group.


Josh Receives Kiss Following Heart Surgery


I’m happily at home and have been since Monday, March 9th. That’s right… I left the hospital 4 days after my surgery.

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“How Long Will I Be In The Hospital?” Asks Wayne

Written By: Adam Pick, Patient Advocate, Author & Website Founder
Page last updated: November 7, 2023

I just received a great question from Wayne. He writes, “Adam – I’ve been following Barbara Bush’s heart valve surgery. Mostly because, at the ripe age of 62, I’ll be having my mitral valve replaced due to severe regurgitation from prolapse (To learn more about prolapsed mitral valves, click here.). I think Barbara was in the hospital for 9 days. Is it common for valve patients to be in the hospital for that long? Thanks for all that you do! Wayne”

There are really two answers to this question. The first answer I’ll provide is based on patient data I collected during a survey. In that survey, I asked over 75 former patients the question, “How long were you in the hospital?” As you can see on the chart below, the average response was five days. (So, that is considerably shorter than Barbara Bush’s stay at Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas.)


Patient Days In Hospital Following Valve Surgery


The second answer I’ll provide to Wayne’s question is less statistical and much more general. That answer is ‘it depends’. As I have learned over the years, every patient case is unique. In some situations, I know patients that have left the hospital after three days. In other cases, due to heart surgery complications, I know patients who stayed in the hospital for more than two weeks.

I hope that helps Wayne (and perhaps you) better understand how long heart surgery patients stay in the hospital.

Also, as many visitors to this blog are former patients… I’m really curious to know what you experienced. If you have an answer to the question, “How long were you in the hospital after valve surgery?”, please leave a comment below.

Keep on tickin!

Marathoner, Jarrett Roberts, Discovers “Second Chance” After Heart Valve Repair

By Adam Pick on March 7, 2009

There is nothing better than waking up in the morning, putting on my robe and slippers, grabbing a cup of coffee, turning on my computer and reading an inspirational, patient story like the one below. Plus, Jarrett’s thoughts about the “waddling penguins” and the “Adam Tinmen” made me giggle. That said, I thought you might like to read about Jarrett Roberts. He writes:

Hi Adam,

Valentine’s day – with the emphasis on love and hearts – has taken on a new meaning to me and my wife as I am on day 22 of my “second chance at life” as I had my bicuspid aortic valve repaired by Dr. Bruce Lytle at the Cleveland Clinic on January 23, 2009.


Jarrett Roberts - Marathoner And Bicuspid Valve Repair Patient
Jarrett Roberts – Arctic Marathoner And Valve Repair Patient


I found it interesting (at the Cleveland Clinic) to be one of the younger patients in for surgery.  The nurses were all excited that a 6′ 7″ marathoner – I’ve done 83 including Antartica in 2005 – was in for surgery (as they normally get the unusual heart valve cases that other clinics won’t touch).

My bicuspid aortic valve was accidentally discovered less than two years ago during a routine cardiac calcium CT that was misdiagnosed as an aortic aneurysm.  The follow-up tests showed that the radiologist had flipped the numbers and I didn’t have an aortic aneurysm. However, I did have a bicuspid congenital defect of my aortic valve.

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“How Many Aortic Valve Replacement Surgeries Are Performed Each Year?” Asks Tina

By Adam Pick on March 7, 2009

What a week for those interested in the topic of heart valve surgery!!!

First, we learned that Barbara Bush was recovering from aortic valve replacement! Then, news reports started buzzing about Robin Williams’ need for heart valve surgery on his aortic valve.

As a result, my email inbox has been flooded with interesting questions about all types of heart valve surgery – especially aortic valve replacement.


Aortic Valve Replacement – Positioning A Prosthetic Valve


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