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A New Way To Replace Heart Valves Without Surgery

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CBS Minnesota (con't)

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By Steve Murphy, NewsRadio 830 WCCO

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Doctors are encouraged by early results from a new procedure for replacing a heart valve without surgery.

Dr. Dan Gruenstein of the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital has used the procedure on two patients, so far, and both are doing well.

NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Steve Murphy Reports

Gruenstein replaced a certain type of heart valve by threading it through a catheter, thus avoiding opening up the chest and doing surgery.

“The advantages of being able to implant valves through a vein in the leg is that our patients are able to undergo this procedure while they circulate their own blood, with their own beating heart, the entire time,” he said.

Sahara Abdi remembers having heart valve surgery 16 years ago.

“They went through my chest, and they broke a couple bones,” she said. “It was really hard, it was tough.”

That valve was failing, so last month Dr. Gruenstein replaced it with one of Medtronic’s new Melody valves. The new device is a valve that’s sewn onto the inside of a stent.

“This one is much, much, much better,” said Abdi.

Instead of getting winded quickly, Abdi can keep up with her 2-year-old daughter.

“I have to have energy for her,” she said.

Gruenstein said implanting a valve without surgery was unthinkable not long ago.

“This is almost science fiction that we could implant a valve in a beating heart, without opening a patient’s chest and — as of a couple of months ago — we’re actually doing this on a couple of patients,” he said.

The FDA approved the procedure a few months ago and Gruenstein hopes it can be used on other types of heart valves in the future.

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