After Successful Mitral Valve Surgery, She Reaches Every Goal, Including Turning 60

Laurie A. was quite nervous when she heard her diagnosis—and the necessary treatment. Her mitral valve prolapse—a common heart condition that often does not need treatment—had started to deteriorate. And she would need open heart surgery to fix it. 

Laurie wanted to find the best possible team, so talked to doctors, friends, and even a hospital CEO, who all pointed her to David H. Adams, MD, Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis

Professor and System Chairman for the Department of Cardiovascular Surgery at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Cardiac Surgeon-in-Chief of the Mount Sinai Health System, and Ahmed M. El-Eshmawi, MD, cardiovascular surgeon and Clinical Director of the Mitral Valve Repair Reference Center at The Mount Sinai Hospital. “Once I decided to have Dr. Adams and Dr. El-Eshmawi perform the surgery, I was still nervous, but confident,” Laurie says.

“The doctors were kind, concerned, and respectful listeners who answered our lengthy list of questions and concerns thoroughly,” Laurie says. One question nagged at her, though. Was there was a less invasive approach to treat her condition? Dr. Adams assured Laurie and her husband that open heart surgery was the safest and most effective approach. He said that the success rate, patient longevity and recovery are excellent with our standard small-access, video assisted approach through the sternum. She appreciated his responses and patience, and they scheduled the procedure.

In preparation, Laurie met with cardiac rehabilitation experts at a local hospital, and exercised regularly. She walked 10,000 steps a day and did squats using a 15-pound kettle bell to build up her leg strength in anticipation of having limited use of her upper body for at least a month after surgery. She also made an extensive list of goals, taking her all the way to her 60th birthday.

October 31st, 2019, was the big day. Drs. Adams and El-Eshmawi used an approach called small-access surgery. This method uses the smallest possible midline incisions and strives to cause the least possible trauma to surrounding tissue, while allowing perfect exposure of the heart to be able to perform high-quality mitral repair.  This translates into less pain and pain relief medication, quicker recovery and discharge from the hospital, and a smoother return to normal life than with a traditional open-heart procedure.

Laurie was thrilled with her care at every step. She found her cardiac anesthesiologist, Ronald A. Kahn, MD, to be “so genuinely kind, caring, and considerate in easing my concerns from start to finish.” The incision was done by Chartaroon Rimsukcharoenchai, MD, a mitral valve reconstruction specialist, “who placed the incision with consideration, thoughtfulness and sensitivity,” she says. And she is forever grateful for the care and compassion of Dr. Adams and Dr.  El-Eshmawi.

After the procedure, she was moved to the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (ICU). “The Cardiac ICU team was incredible. Their attentiveness—to everything—was really impressive.”

Laurie began to focus on meeting her goals, starting with sitting up and transferring from intensive care to a standard patient room. She carefully checked off each item, including 36 cardiac rehabilitation sessions, a New Year’s celebration in Las Vegas two months after her procedure and 60th birthday.

“There aren’t enough thanks for all these medical professionals who genuinely cared about, and contributed to my health, comfort, and ultimate fantastic recovery,” Laurie says.