I was born with a heart murmur which, as a child, was diagnosed as a bicuspid aortic valve. After seeing cardiologists my whole life, it was finally determined, after an echo cardiogram when I was 41, that I needed to have the valve replaced. Due to my age, it was recommended that I go with the artificial St. Jude valve, since it would most likely last my entire life. Weighing the options of being on blood thinners the rest of my life vs. having to have a second surgery, I opted for the former. After 10 years things are going great. Despite having to take blood thinners and having my INR checked regularly being a bit of a nuisance, I've had virtually no complications. I exercise regularly and can participate in activities I never could as a child. I am very grateful for all the surgeons, researchers and developers for giving people like me a second chance at life.