Minimally Invasive Valve Surgery Gets Medina Man Cycling Again

Heart patient Darryl Albright would agree with Albert Einstein, who said, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.”

The Medina businessman and his wife were avid cyclists who found balance in their busy lives by spending time together on long distance bike rides. In 2011, Darryl noticed he was having trouble riding long distances. Monitored closely by his cardiologist near home, Darryl was told three years later that he needed to begin considering options for surgery.

“I wanted to go to the best, period. Cleveland Clinic is known to be the best heart hospital in the U.S. so why would you go anywhere else? It just didn’t make sense to me. There was no way I was going anywhere other than the Cleveland Clinic.”

That’s when he picked up the phone to call Cleveland Clinic. He was pleased to get an appointment the very next day. For Darryl, Cleveland Clinic was the only choice for surgery.

“I wanted to go to the best, period. Cleveland Clinic is known to be the best heart hospital in the U.S. so why would you go anywhere else? It just didn’t make sense to me. There was no way I was going anywhere other than the Cleveland Clinic.”

During an appointment with Cleveland Clinic cardiologist Vidyasagar Kalahasti, MD, Dr. Kalahasti confirmed that Darryl’s bicuspid aortic valve was beginning to calcify. Together, the course of action they determined was to monitor Darryl’s valve until surgery was absolutely necessary.

“My wife and I used to bike ride 60 miles, 70, and all of a sudden it was 25, 10, 5 miles. I couldn’t bike ride anymore so that’s when we knew it was time for surgery,” Darryl says.

After conducting tests and an echocardiogram, Darryl’s surgeon explained the procedure prior to the surgery to help him understand what would happen in the operating room. Cardiovascular surgeon Douglas Johnston, MD, performed a minimally invasive aortic valve replacement inserting a bioprosthetic valve.

“The recovery was gradual,” Darryl explains. “I was in the hospital for a week. I would walk a little more each day. I was so comfortable; I was calling it the heart resort, not a hospital. It just took a lot of the stress away.”

Darryl attributes much of his recovery to his team of caregivers --- physicians, nurses, therapists, housekeeping and nutritional services staff --- who were with him every step along the way. They kept him informed by explaining procedures, tests and the recovery process. Darryl says knowing what to expect helped put his mind at ease.

Other than annual follow-up visits to his cardiologist, Darryl is once again biking long distances with his family.

“Having a smile on my face and getting back to a normal life was the biggest thing for me,” he says. “Cleveland Clinic is amazing.”

Related Institutes: Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute (Miller Family)
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