When Bill Kotonias was just a kid, doctors knew he had a special heart.
Bill was born with a bicuspid aortic valve, unlike the tricuspid valve most of us have. This caused concern, as a bicuspid valve can wear out prematurely or create other heart problems.
In high school, Bill learned that his valve had stenosis, meaning that it was narrowing and not working as well. He had surgery to repair the valve, and was told that the valve would eventually need replacement.
Bill went on with his life. He graduated from college and dental school, got married and had children. He took care of himself by exercising and eating well. In 2015, however, he began to feel extreme fatigue and shortness of breath.
Because of his symptoms, doctors said it was time to consider a valve replacement. Bill did not want a mechanical valve, due to the medications required and possible limitations to his active lifestyle. Then he learned about a new study being conducted at MHIF using a bioprosthetic valve, which is made of animal tissue and doesn’t require the long-term use of medication. MHIF’s commitment to research and education gave Bill an option that best fit his lifestyle and offered close care and monitoring to help him through his valve replacement.
Bill’s story is one of hope. He underwent surgery, recovered quickly and has resumed the active lifestyle he and his family enjoy.
“Having this surgery was like having a reset in life,” Bill said.
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