Eighty-year-old is saved by pioneering heart surgery

15.03.12 Categories: Patient News

King’s surgeons performed a UK first in keyhole heart surgery for Doris ‘Doll’ Shearman from Pontypool in South Wales. The eighty-year-old was too frail for open heart surgery when one of her valves began to fail, so she was urgently transferred to King’s College Hospital for a unique form of keyhole surgery.

The surgical team at King’s, led by heart surgery expert Mr Olaf Wendler, saved Doll by fitting an artificial valve through a 4cm hole in her chest after she was told that she was too high risk for the usual procedure. She is the first person in the UK to have a replacement mitral valve prosthesis fitted in this low-risk way.

“only a few of these mitral valve replacements have been performed worldwide”

Mr Olaf Wendler, heart surgeon

Mr Wendler and his team are specialised in repairing mitral heart valves, but said “the challenge for us was that only a few of these mitral valve replacements have been performed worldwide.” Thankfully, they rose to the challenge, and Doll was awake and talking just two hours after coming out of the operating theatre. “This procedure has transformed Mrs Shearman’s condition” says Mr Wendler, “without it, she would have faced very risky open heart surgery, with less than a fifty per cent chance of survival.”

Doll’s daughter Julia is astounded by her mother’s recovery: “Mum is doing really well and there’s no doubt that if she had not gone to King’s for her treatment, she would have died... Without Olaf and his team’s expertise my mum wouldn’t be here today. They saved her life and we are all eternally grateful.”

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