Darlene: Cardiac Valve

In early 2016, Darlene had a massive heart attack. She had stents implanted, survived and recovered. But soon after, her mitral valve began to regurgitate, causing significant challenges in her everyday life and one overarching concern: that she wouldn’t survive to see her grandson get married later that year. “I didn’t know if I would see that wedding,” she said.

Darlene came to the Minneapolis Heart Institute® at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, where she was told that her mitral valve would need to be replaced. Soon after, she was approached about a research study of a new version of the Tendyne Bioprosthetic Mitral Valve replacement device.

In 2015, Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation® (MHIF) was the first in the U.S. to conduct a transcatheter mitral valve replacement with the Tendyne valve. At that time, only one size of the device was available, and it was too large for patients with smaller hearts, including some women, because those smaller hearts did not have as much room for the valve. To address this issue, Tendyne developed a modified device, and Darlene was the first woman to receive it.

Immediately after her minimally invasive procedure in September, Darlene felt better. “I didn’t have the pain I expected. I didn’t need any painkillers,” she said. “I felt better right away.” She went home just a few days later, and celebrated with her family at her grandson’s wedding soon after that. “I danced at the wedding, and I have pictures to prove it!”

Darlene is grateful to the team of physicians and researchers at MHIF, and she says that she had no reservations about participating in research. “If it improves it for me and for anyone else in the future, that would be a big thing,” she said. “Any kind of advancement is to the better of all of us.”

And now, Darlene has hope. “It’s extended my life,” she said. “I can see my next grandchild get married.”

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