New heart valve implanted without open-heart surgery - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

New heart valve implanted without open-heart surgery

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

An experimental heart valve was recommended for approval by a FDA advisory panel last week.

It can be inserted without open heart surgery through a catheter system, allowing patients a much quicker recovery.

Diana Gonzalez talked with one of the patients who received the valve in early trials, and quickly found out how it changed his life.

Harold Schoendorf works out most days on this exercise machine in his apartment and enjoys a weekly swim. He turns 85 in November.

"I don't go out and jog around the block but I'm capable of doing that. I can run up and down the stairs of this building here, which I couldn't do before," he said.

Harold says he got a new lease on life in April 2008. That's when he became the first patient in the south east to get an experimental heart valve at University of Miami hospital.

"It was a piece of cake to get a new aortic valve without having open heart surgery," he said.

Since he had a quintuple bypass in the 80s, surgery would have been too risky. So this device was implanted via a catheter through an artery in the groin.

"They collapse this little valve and they go through the femoral and drop it in . And I don't think the whole procedure took two hours. And that evening I was reading the paper and the next morning I wanted to go home."

"When we treated Mr. Schoendorf within the first or 3 patients we knew this was going to be a dramatic breakthrough," heart surgeon Dr. William O'Neill said.

It's been a little more than 3 years since Dr. William O'Neill implanted the first sapien heart valve at University of Miami. Since then 145 patients have received this experimental device here.

Out of that group Dr. O'Neill says there has been 1 death directly related to the procedure and 2 major strokes, a much lower rate of complications compared to traditional surgery.

"We believe it will be approved as so the valve will become commercially available probably in the fall," Dr. O'Neill said.

"Best thing that every happened to me," Schoendorf said.

FDA will conduct a final review, but generally follows the recommendation of its advisory panels.

If final approval is granted, it will become the first transcatheter valve available in the U.S.

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