Taking matters into his own hands
When Doug Sheils heard the news last August that his mitral valve prolapse (MVP) had progressed to regurgitation, he was ready to take action.
“It wasn’t an emergency, but I knew if I didn’t do something within the next year, there was going to be irreparable damage to the heart tissue,” Mr. Sheils says.
So, the 49-year-old resident of Huntington, W.Va., decided to take an active role in his own care. Mr. Sheils, who works for a Huntington hospital, began researching his condition online on the websites of the leading heart programs in the country.
He deduced that his best option was to have his mitral valve repaired — not replaced — by robotically assisted surgery.
That brought him to Cleveland Clinic’s website, where he found videos describing valve repair and interviews with cardiac surgeon Marc Gillinov, MD.
When he added Cleveland Clinic’s reputation as the No. 1-ranked heart program in the country to the mix, Mr. Sheils concluded its Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute was where he wanted to have his procedure.
Mr. Sheils sought a valve repair because they lead to better short- and long-term survival rates and no blood thinners are necessary. “It was comforting to go to the Cleveland Clinic website and see a commitment to repairing valves when at all possible,” he says.
Mr. Sheils also was familiar with the advantages of robotically assisted surgery over conventional surgery – including quicker recovery times, fewer complications and reduced hospital stays – and specifically sought a hospital offering this state-of-the-art technology.
He made the five-hour trip to Cleveland a few days prior to his Jan. 11, 2009 surgery date for preoperative appointments and his initial face-to-face meeting with Dr. Gillinov. Dr. Gillinov performed the robotic repair of Mr. Sheil’s mitral valve, with no complications.
“Everything went like clockwork,” Mr. Sheils says. “I feel blessed that I had an opportunity to utilize the services of Cleveland Clinic.”
Mr. Sheils was discharged four days after the procedure. Today, Mr. Sheils is back at work and is feeling well overall. In particular, he notices a considerable difference in his breathing, especially after he climbs a flight of stairs. He meets regularly with his primary care physician and cardiologist for follow-up care.
He says experience sets Cleveland Clinic apart. “You want to go to somebody who has done hundreds or thousands of these procedures, is on the leading edge of research and knows the latest techniques,” Mr. Sheils urges. “You can’t beat that level of confidence and competence.”