• Cardiology Patient Stories

    Mike’s Mechanical Aortic Valve

Editor's Note: Mike from the Minneapolis area sent us this message on the day after Thanksgiving, as he wanted to share his gratitude for the care he received at Mayo Clinic earlier this year. His story is below; here are options for how you can share your story.

Hello my name is Mike, and in March of 2009 I had a mechanical aortic valve (and some other stuff, ha!) installed by Dr. Hartzell Schaff.

I was born with a bicuspid aortic valve and I always knew it would need to be replaced at some point. Age 45 became my some point and thus the reason for the surgery. I am very fortunate to live in the Minneapolis / St. Paul area because there are significant options for quality health care in the area. Faced with the fact that I needed to have my valve replaced sooner rather than later I started to research my options regarding the location and surgeon. I found many that I’m sure I would have had a good experience with but when it came down to it, it seemed to me I should visit the Mayo Clinic because I heard they are the best and my research proved that out.

So I scheduled a clinic day for March 17th with the help of Donna Stucky who was wonderful to work with. My day of testing couldn’t have gone smoother, everyone was so professional, competent and complete in their area. My wife came with me and by the end of the day we were both in agreement, this was the place for us! The uneasy feeling of the unknown wasn’t gone but it had diminished greatly. I also happened to meet a couple of Dr. Schaff’s patients during the day and they explained he is the absolute best surgeon – one of the best in the world. By the end of the day I was set for surgery with Dr. Schaff and his team one week later and I was looking forward to getting on the road to recovery.

I didn’t know what to expect going to the hospital that morning in March, as I’ve not spent a lot of time in hospitals and haven’t had any significant surgeries prior to this one. Thinking about it now, I’d say my experience was so positive and life changing it’s impossible to put into words, but I’ll try.

First and foremost Dr. Schaff and his team are great. As well as all the people that prepared me for surgery. They made me feel at ease and let me know everything was going to be fine. Don’t tell them but between you and me I was looking for the exits, haha! When I woke up in ICU, I met Penny. She was marvelous! I’d never been in ICU before and she walked me through it and made sure I was ok. She also was great with my family who came to visit. The ICU was difficult but Penny and the other nurses made it much easier.

After ICU I was transferred to room 5-608 in the Patient Care Unit. The people involved in this area far exceeded my expectations and took care of my every need and concern. If I had questions they spent time with me until I was comfortable with the issue or topic. I was quickly put at ease and I knew everything was going to be fine. Again they took such great care of me it’s hard to put it into words. I wish I could remember all their names. Say thank you to them for me!

I was at Mayo less than a week but it was demonstrated to me that your people are so devoted to helping others; I’ve never witnessed anything like it. I said to my wife as I packed up to leave, someone else will be in this room tomorrow and these people will work just as hard for them as they did for us, amazing!

I’ve had a couple of occasions to call back for questions. The responses have been prompt, complete and most importantly helpful.

Trust me when I tell you I’ve shared this story with anyone that will listen. I absolutely consider the Mayo Clinic a world class health care facility but above all I know the people working there are compassionate caring people that truly devote their lives to helping others. The world would be a better place if we all cared that much!

It’s the day after Thanksgiving and I have so much to be thankful for, I always have to start by thanking Mayo not only for saving my life but giving me back my life. Today I feel better than I have in several years. I go to the gym daily and ride my bike when weather permits. People always ask me if I’m back to 100%. I find that funny because based on how I felt going into the hospital in March – I feel 200% just like everyone at Mayo told me I would.

I hope you can share this story with people that might be a little tentative (as I was) regarding making a decision about heart surgery. I know it helped me to talk with other patients.

Thank you for this opportunity to tell you about my experience and thank you all for taking such great care of me and my family. I’m looking forward to a long and fulfilling life.


Related Diseases

Related Treatments

Related Departments