When Elnora Scheffler learned that her aortic valve had calcified and needed to be replaced, she was told that she may not be able to do anything about it. Because Elnora was 85 years old, and because she had undergone other medical procedures such as back surgery and a hip replacement, she was not an ideal candidate for open heart surgery to replace the valve.
But when Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation research staff told Elnora about the Lotus Cardiac Valve System, she suddenly had options. She agreed to participate in the clinical trial of the Lotus, and became the second patient in Minnesota and only the eighth in the United States to receive a Lotus valve implant.
This may have been a daunting prospect for many, but for Elnora, it was a no-brainer. “Anything to help with research,” she said. “If it helps somebody else, why not?”
Elnora lives on her family farm in the small town of Morton, Minnesota, where she keeps busy by acting as the unofficial family cook, preparing meals for her grandsons, who still farm the family land. She has four great-grandchildren, all of whom live in Minnesota, and she spends as much time with family as she can.
After her valve replacement, Elnora recovered quickly, and was discharged from the hospital just two days later. She went right back to cooking, cleaning and doing everything she did before – or possibly more, as she reports being much less tired than before she received the Lotus valve. “No one believes me when I say that I had this done,” she said. “My eye doctor called me the bionic woman.”
Elnora is grateful that the Lotus valve was an option when she needed it, and that it has worked well for her so far. Even if she had been deemed eligible for open heart surgery, she says that she probably wouldn’t have done it. “I’ve seen the pain and recovery process that others have gone through, and at my age, I didn’t want to go through that,” she said. Here at the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, we’re glad that clinical research into devices like the Lotus provides options to Elnora and others like her.
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