I am a Brit (English) Male and I had a Bjork Shiley single leaflet valve fitted in 1978, at the age of 35. Now I am 73, so I guess that qualifies me as a veteran on this site. At the age of 6, I contracted Polio and one of the side effects was Rheumatic Fever damaging my Aortic heart valve.
Luckily, although I missed the Polio vaccine, I was in the right place at the right time for a new heart valve when my own became unable to sustain me. The valve has now worked without a hitch for almost 38 years and my doctors tell me is still working well. I have always wanted to find someone with a valve of that vintage, but my searches have not met with success.
Naturally, I have been taking Warfarin (Coudamin) for that length of time soon, but apart from the obvious problems have remained relatively stable. I am a self testing patient using a Roche Coaguchek system which means I can travel freely, both for my work as a Professional Engineer and now I am retired we spend several months each year cruising the world. My favourite trip was last year Southampton to New York on the Queen Mary 2. However, travel insurance is now becoming prohibitive, so we have booked the last of our trips to our beloved USA for Autumn 2016 and Spring 2017, one last time to Boston and New York and finally our fantasy trip on the Rocky Mountaineer / Alaska cruise. We will however continue to travel around Europe.
I am not obsessed with the life span of my valve, I have always tried to treat it well and it has reciprocated. Without it, I probably would not have survived 40 so I can’t complain. Of course here in the UK we have the National Health Service, which is free at the point of need. It still leaves me with the ambition to find another person with an equally long - lived valve, and give those about to undergo surgery the confidence that life can still be lived to the full.