Indiana doctor uses part of a cow heart to save woman’s life

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Photo of 84-year-old Jane Wineman

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – An Indiana doctor is leading the way in heart health, becoming the first surgeon in the state to save a woman’s life using part of a cow’s heart valve.  That woman is His first 84-year-old Jane Wineman, who is now back to singing and living life to the fullest after nearly using her life to a clogged heart valve.

“I did not want to do anything. I could not figure out what was wrong with me,” says Wineman.

Doctors at St. Vincent told Jane they could use part of a cow’s heart to save her life. Making her the first person in Indiana to undergo a cutting edge valve replacement made out of the tough sac that surrounds the heart of a cow.

“When this procedure was offered, I was dumbfounded. I did not know there was such a thing,” says Wineman.

This suture-less heart valve called Perceval just received FDA approval. It is a unique self-anchoring frame that allows doctors to perform open heart surgery or go through the groin to replace diseased valves in seconds, without using stitches.

“We still stop the heart and open it. We remove all of the bad valves, size the valve, and then choose the correctly sized valve off of a shelf and put it in,” says Chief of surgery at St. Vincent Heart Center of Indiana Dr. David Heimansohn.

This procedure slashes surgery time in half.

“The Perceval valve then slowly expands and fits in where the diseased valve was,” says Dr. Heimansohn.

Wineman already had several stents and thought that she was not healthy enough to undergo open heart surgery to replace her valves. Doctors assured her the procedure was the best way to replace the diseased valves, insert the cow tissue, and keep her heart healthy and pumping blood that was previously blocked by the clogged valves.

Jane is one of nearly 5 million Americans that are diagnosed with heart valve disease each year. Without valve replacement surgery, 50% of those patients will not survive. With this procedure, patients in their 80’s will add at least six years to their life.

Doctor Heimanson was one of the first doctors in the world to use a cow’s heart tissue to save a life. After Percival was just FDA approved he knows he will not be the last.

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