Adam's Heart Valve Surgery Blog – Page 71

A Very Memorable Letter From Dr. Donald Ross, Inventor Of The Ross Procedure

By Adam Pick on November 30, 2007

Last night, I drove up to my house after a very, very, very lonnnnnng day of work. The past twelve hours were filled with hundreds of emails, several conference calls, Los Angeles traffic, etc. Little did I know… My mailbox was holding a short, one page letter that would bring me to tears. I was on the phone with Rob, a good friend, as I flipped through the daily junk-mail that advertised everything from built-in cabinets, to the local Indian restaurant, to Direct TV.

Then, I saw it.


Letter From Dr. Donald Ross To Adam Pick


“I have to call you back,” I said to Rob, “There is a letter in my hand from Dr. Donald Ross.”

For those of you who don’t know me, I had a Ross Procedure Operation a few years back. Dr. Vaughn Starnes performed the complex surgery which replaced both the aortic and pulmonary valves of my heart.

After a challenging recovery, I am now doing very well. I am surfing again, scuba diving again and I just got married. To help other heart valve surgery patients, I wrote a book called The Patient’s Guide To Heart Valve Surgery.

That said, I was holding a personal note from the inventor of the Ross Procedure, Dr. Donald Ross. As I peeled back the envelope, I remembered my phone call with Dr. Ross a few weeks back. He is quite an amazing man.

The letter unfolded in my hands…

Needless to say, I was touched, moved and inspired as I read the note.

To think… Dr. Donald Ross “thanks” me for writing my book.

To think… Dr. Donald Ross writes that he will “find my book useful in explaining the surgery”.

To think…

I never, ever, ever, everrrrrrr fathomed this as a possibility. Especially, considering my thanks to him is boundary-less. Because of Dr. Ross, and his innovative thoughts on cardiac surgery, I am now living a full, healthy life again.

I should be the one thanking him, don’t you think?

Keep on tickin!

Patients and Caregivers! Don’t Forget To Ask Your Genie!

By Adam Pick on November 29, 2007

I am a very lucky man. Throughout my life, I have been fortunate to have great parents, supportive siblings, guru-like mentors, steady work and now, a wonderful wife in Robyn. This may seem strange for you to hear… But, I especially appreciate my double heart valve replacement surgery.

Yes, the stress, fear, anxiety and frustration of cardiac surgery is not easy going through. But, after my roller-coaster recovery, I now see all the life-changing benefits the operation brought into my life. There is no doubt, my family and friends helped me turn a lemon into lemonade (from the patient perspective).

Interestingly enough, the entire heart surgery experience reinforced a key “life-lesson” that I absorbed years ago. There is a wonderful book called, The Aladdin Factor. If you haven’t read it, I would highly encourage you to consider what the authors, Jack Canfield and Mark Hansen, communicate in this wonderful book.


Ask The Genie For Help During Heart Surgery


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Patient Recovery Spotlight: The Incredible Taylor Browning

By Adam Pick on November 27, 2007

Every so often, I have an experience that insures my belief that life is nothing short of an amazing opportunity to learn from the extraordinary accomplishments of others.

Last Saturday, I had such an experience.

Four days ago, at the Manhattan Beach Brewing Company in Southern California, I finally met Michelle and Taylor Browning. Below you can see a picture of Taylor, Michelle, Robyn and me (left to right).


Brownings & Picks


So you know, Taylor had heart surgery (aortic valve replacement, root replacement) due to an aortic aneurysm ten months ago. I met the Brownings shortly after Taylor’s wife, Michelle, read my book and sent me some questions.

Since then, the three of us of us have continued to exchange emails as Taylor progressed through his procedure and then his recovery.



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Will Heart Valve Manufacturers Consolidate And Gobble Up Each Other?

By Adam Pick on November 27, 2007

Are you seeing what I’m seeing in the world of heart valve manufacturers?

I could be wrong, but it seems like a new wave of corporate consolidation is upon us. During the past few months, several corporate transactions have been announced involving many leading (Edwards) and start-up (AorTx) heart valve manufacturing providers.


Heart Valve Replacement Repair Mergers And Acqusitions


Some of the most recent deals include:

  • Edward Lifesciences’ purchase of the Cardiovation product line from Ethicon.
  • Hansen’s acquisition of AorTx.

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How Many Mitral Valve Operations Performed Each Year?

By Adam Pick on November 24, 2007

One of the typical thoughts which appear for patients diagnosed with a severe heart valve disease diagnosis is that of… loneliness. As a heart valve patient wrote me recently, “I feel so alone.”

Heart valve surgery can trigger scary and isolated thoughts – for both patients and caregivers. Personally, I remember that lonely feeling when I was diagnosed with aortic stenosis which lead to my Ross Procedure (double valve replacement).


How Many Mitral Valve Surgeries Performed Annually By Cardiac Surgeons


This thought rattled around in my head, “I do not know anyone who has had aortic valve replacement. Hmmm. This must be a very dangerous operation.”

Interestingly enough, that fear can and should be managed when evaluating the realities of cardiac surgery…

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Two Years Later… Still, Very Thankful For My Heart Valve Surgery

By Adam Pick on November 20, 2007

Okay. Okay.

I know if I titled this blog ‘Happy Thanksgiving From The Heart’ it would simply be too much of a cliche. So, I decided to edit that title and reshape the focus of this blog a little.

If you are a newly diagnosed patient (with severe heart valve disease), you may be going through some fear, uncertainty and doubt right now. If you are a caregiver, I can imagine that you may have a whole lot of concern for the patient that you’re looking after.

Well… I’m here to show you how this former patient looks back upon his heart surgery as a fantastically positive experience. That’s right!

“How is Adam going to do that?” you may be wondering with a raised eyebrow.

Well. I have a few tricks up my sleeve.

As many of you know, this is the second year after my Ross Procedure. Needless to say, it has been an amazing twenty-four months.

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Best Piece Of Advice… Watch Out For That First Sneeze!!!

By Adam Pick on November 17, 2007

One of the most common questions I receive is, “What is the best piece of advice for heart valve surgery patients preparing for their recovery from heart valve replacement or heart valve repair?”

It’s a great question. Unfortunately, there is no one distinct answer. I think that is the reason I wrote my book. There are lots and lots of pieces of advice that patients and their caregivers should know. In fact, I even have a new chapter in the revised edition of the book titled, “The Best Piece Of Advice”, to help answer that question.



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Is Intel… I mean St. Jude Inside You?

By Adam Pick on November 16, 2007

As some of you may know, I am a high technology analyst for a leading firm here in Los Angeles. I am also a former, double heart valve replacement patient with a personal mission to help future patients and caregivers.

That said, there is some (albeit small but significant) overlap between these two roles in my life.

For example, are you familiar with the “Intel Inside” marketing strategy of the early 1990’s? At the time, Intel was a vague semiconductor brand that powered the world’s business and personal computers with its central processing unit (CPU). Back then, buyers were typically aware of brands like Hewlett Packard, Compaq and IBM, but they didn’t really pay attention to the CPU that powered their desktop computer.


Intel Inside Marketing Campaign To Be Used By Heart Valve Manufacturers


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Video Spotlight: Mitral Valve Replacement Video By Michael Petracek, MD

By Adam Pick on November 16, 2007

Alright everybody…

You know what time it is…

Yep. You guessed it. It’s time to update the “Heart Valve Surgery Video Of The Week”.

This week we’re going to do something completely different than all of the heart surgery videos that we featured in the past. Today, we are going to show an entire video that focuses on minimally invasive, heart valve replacement surgery. The video is about one hour long.

In this video, Dr. Michael R. Petracek of the Saint Thomas Heart Institute in Nashville, Tennesse is going to perform a minimally invasive mitral valve replacement under direct vision through a right thoracotomy.

It’s interesting to note that Dr. Michael Petracek’s procedure is done without a cross clamp under cold fibrilation through a 2-inch incision which is reported to minimize heart valve surgery complications.

To watch the video simply press the “Play” button in the mini-video screen in the right browser.



Keep on tickin!

Chest Xray Of Mechanical Valve & Sternum Wires

By Adam Pick on November 16, 2007

So I’m surfing the Internet last night when I come across Michael C’s blog, “The Wonderful World Of Nothing Worthwhile”. Great name for a blog, right?

Anyways, it turns out there is something very worthwhile at this blog. Michael is a former heart valve replacement patient. He had mechanical valve replacement surgery just recently.

Like many patients, Michael was curious to see what his chest (heart valves and sternum wires) looked like under xray after surgery. Unlike many patients, however, Michael actually did something about it.

Here is Michael C’s show and tell (including an actual xray picture of his embedded, artificial heart valve and sternum wires)…

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A Husband’s Perspective On Heart Valve Surgery Recovery

By Adam Pick on November 12, 2007

Every once in a while I receive an email that is either overwhelmingly touching or incredibly insightful. In those situations I ask my readers if I can publish their quotes / stories in my blog. Luckily, 99% of the time they say “yes”.

I have to admit…

These stories are the epicenter of why I wrote my book and why I continue to write this blog… I know this information will help somebody, somewhere, someday. Maybe it will help you right now?

Recently, I received a note from a reader (his name is Taylor) about his wife of 55 years (Phille). Phille just had significant heart surgery. Typically, the stories come to me directly from the patient. However, many stories come from their caregivers. Taylor is the husband and primary caregiver in this case.



Sorry about being so long getting back to you, but you know how it is…

Phille had the surgery on Monday 10/15/07.

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Edwards Lifesciences Doubles Heart Valve Replacement Donation Fund

By Adam Pick on November 12, 2007

This is really great news…

More than twenty Orange County, California organizations and hospitals will share in nearly $245,000 in grants this year from The Edwards Lifesciences Fund.

The Edwards Lifesciences Fund, the charitable arm of Irvine heart valve maker Edwards Lifesciences Corp., announced today that it would donate more than $2.5 million to 60 charitable organizations worldwide as part of its third annual grant cycle. That is more than twice the amount it gave away last year.


Edwards Valve Replacements


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“Arigato” Tokyo For The Sushi… Ready To Blog Again!

By Adam Pick on November 12, 2007


After eight very busy days in Tokyo, I am back in Los Angeles.

I have to admit, Tokyo is one impressive city.

Great trains, great clients and unbelievable sushi!!!

So you know, I’m a sushi addict.

I’ll never forget the first sushi bar I went to in Tokyo. I ordered tuna and the waiter responded with, “How fatty do you want your tuna?” That was a great sign I was in the right place for the freshest raw fish on the planet.

I even made it to the famous Japanese Fish Market – the Tsukiji Fish Market – with two of my colleagues. We got up at 5am and then headed down to the docks. One hour later, we were eating sushi right alongside the fish auctions. It was pretty incredible to see all the tuna auctions in the wholesale market.

Anyways, now I’m back with my bride, Robyn, and checking emails. Lots of news about heart valve surgery, heart valve replacement and heart valve repair during the past few days. I’ll be uploading some blogs shortly.


Running After Heart Valve Surgery

By Adam Pick on November 6, 2007

In my humble opinion, developing recovery milestones is a critical, often over-looked, element of heart valve surgery recovery. As patients heal following surgery, many experience perceived or actual heart valve complications. To learn more about complications post-op, click here.

That said, recovery milestones are tangible signs of progress which counter a lurking thought that most patients feel at some point during recovery. That thought is, “I think something is wrong!”

Personally, I developed a series of recovery milestones that I wrote about in a prior blog. So you know, I keep developing these recovery benchmarks even though I had my double heart valve replacement twenty-three months ago.

I am happy to report that I achieved another milestone earlier today. As some of you know, I am currently in Tokyo on a business trip. I awoke to a beautiful day here in Japan – clear skies with the temperature in the high 60’s.

I couldn’t resist… I decided it was time to go for a run before my morning meetings. However, this time, I decided to leave my heart rate monitor behind.

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What Is The Life Expectancy After Heart Valve Replacement Surgery?

By Adam Pick on November 5, 2007

I’m on day three of my work trip through Japan. So far, Tokyo is very impressive and… very crowded! I almost had a panic attack walking through the train stations this morning. So many people! I’ve since learned that Tokyo is one of the most populated cities in the world, with a population over 12 million.

Needless to say, the jet lag is still overwhelming considering I live in Los Angeles. That said, I’ve had some extra, early morning hours to dig through my inbox and answer some questions. I just received an interesting question about life expectancy after heart surgery. It reads, “Adam – Do you know what the life expectancy is for patients after heart valve surgery?”



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Heart Valve Replacement Manufacturers – Who Are They?

By Adam Pick on November 5, 2007

A great topic… Heart Valve Manufacturers.

They design, develop and manufacture the little gizmos that replicate the functioning of our own tissue heart valves.

However, often times, patients know very little about the manufacturers of  mechanical or biological heart valve replacement devices. That said, the question of “Who are the top heart valve manufacturers?” is a great one.


Edwards LifeSciences Heart Valve Replacement
Edwards Lifesciences Valve Replacement


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Can A Patient Be Awake During Heart Surgery? Bypass? Valve Surgery?

By Adam Pick on November 5, 2007

This was news to me…

Did you know that patients can be awake during a heart bypass operation?

I had no idea this was possible until I just saw an incredible video on about patients being awake during cardiac surgery.

In India, several cardiac surgeons are pioneering heart valve operations (including valve repair and valve replacement) in which the patient is awake. No general anesthetic is used throughout the entire procedure.

I’m still a little amazed.



Keep on tickin!

What Are The Heart Valve Replacement Surgery Risks?

By Adam Pick on November 4, 2007

There are a lots and lots of questions that race through a patient’s mind when he or she is diagnosed as “needing heart valve replacement surgery”.

However, one of the most common questions I receive when talking with patients and their caregivers about heart valve surgery is… “What are my valve replacement surgery risks?”

It’s an interesting question. I know it well. I’ll never forget when I was diagnosed. That question was re-phrased in my mind and sounded more like, “Oh my god! Open heart surgery? Am I going to die?” (I’m guessing you can relate to that thought.)

However you chose to phrase the question, that IS NOT what makes the question interesting.

Nope… Not at all.

What makes that question interesting is the fact that there is risk if you have the surgery AND there is risk if you don’t have valve replacement surgery. In fact, you have “risk” every second of your life – from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep. To learn more about valve replacement surgery, click here.

Think about it! Do you think driving in a car is completely safe, without risk? Think again! I live in Los Angeles. The drivers are crazy in that city. Once a week I yell out to someone, “What are you trying to kill me?”

That said, valve replacement surgery risks are quite small. The unfortunate truth is that some patients do not make it through the heart surgery. However, it is a very small percentage.

During my research for the book, The Patient’s Guide To Heart Valve Surgery, I learned that the mortality rate for heart valve surgery is only 2.4%. And, thanks to medical technology, the mortality rate continues to improve.

I hope that helps calm some of your fears about valve replacement surgery risks.

Keep on tickin!

After Heart Surgery, It’s Sushi Time In Tokyo, Japan

By Adam Pick on November 3, 2007


Twenty three months after double heart valve surgery, I find myself in Tokyo, Japan for a week of work. (I’m speaking at a conference here.)

Luckily, I have today (Sunday) to wander through the city. The weather couldn’t be any better – high 60’s and no clouds.

I just went on a long walk through the Hama-rikyu Gardens (pictured above) and I’m getting ready for a stroll down the Ginza district.

Needless to say, I have already had my first fill of sushi.  As soon as I got to my hotel, I dropped my bags in the room and darted to the closest sushi bar.  Yum! Yum! Yum!

The salmon, tuna, and yellowtail was so fresh. Plus, I really like how they prepare their wasabe.  Yes. I’m going for more tonight!

Keep on tickin!

Broken Sternum Recovery… And, The Pain

By Adam Pick on October 31, 2007

I approach this topic with delicate care.

“Why?” you may be wondering.

Well…. Let me explain.

It is one thing to realize you need heart surgery.

It is another thing to realize you need to have your sternum broken in the process. That said, heart valve surgery is somewhat of a double whammy.

Yes. There is anesthesia.

Yes. There is pain medication.

Yes. There are medical facts which suggest that you will live longer after heart valve surgery.


Broken Sternum Recovery
Me… One Week After Open Heart Valve Surgery


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