Patient Stories

Through the power of community, patients have the ability to connect and share messages of hope and courage to inspire and educate others. We invite our patients and their families to share their personal story so that it may help someone else going through a similar experience. If you would like to share your story, please complete and submit the form.


Fred Hoiberg

Patient story: Fred
NBA Player for 10 Years
Head Coach: Chicago Bulls
Husband, Father of 4, Age 43
On-X Aortic Valve Recipient

“Since getting my On-X valve, I feel as good as I did when I was playing in the NBA.”

Fred Hoiberg played in the NBA for 10 years with the Indiana Pacers, Chicago Bulls, and Minnesota Timberwolves, until 2005 when irregular cardiac readings from a routine physical benched him… and then changed his life forever.
Read More


Michael Marranca

Patient story: Michael
Senior PA-C at Mayo Clinic
Husband, Father of 2, Age 56
On-X Aortic & Mitral Valve Recipient

“It’s a humbling experience, and I think it made me a more passionate practitioner. It allows me to relate to the patient in a way I wasn’t able to before.”

Michael Marranca is a senior PA-C at Mayo Clinic where he specializes in CT surgery. He’s also a heart valve surgery patient, and recipient of two On-X mechanical heart valves.
Read More



Mike Thomas

Patient story: Mike
Active Cyclist, Athlete, Age 54
U.S. Army Veteran (1982-2010)
Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm
On-X Aortic Valve Recipient

“My doctors recommended a mechanical valve because I’m a younger patient, even at 54! They told me a tissue valve would wear out and require additional surgical procedures.”

In December 2014, doctors told Mike, an active cyclist who has been serving in the U.S. military for nearly three decades, that his heart valve was not functioning correctly. He had severe regurgitation; significant amounts of blood were flowing backward into his heart, forcing his heart to work overtime. Over the years, Mike’s worsening aortic regurgitation caused his heart muscle to compensate for the “leaky” valve and become enlarged, beginning the path for heart failure.
Read More


Luis Angel Mercado

Patient Story: Luis
Age: 9, Student
SynerGraft Patient
CryoValve SG Heart Valve

With the help of the CardioStart International Organization, on Friday, April 15th Luis received a small 7mm homograft as a two cusp onlay patch to surgically correct Tetralogy of Fallot..

Luis successfully recovered and was subsequently discharged four days later with a very satisfactory improvement. The valve was sent as part of our CryoKids program to the Dominican Republic in November 2015.
Read More




Patient story: Marilyn
Independent Business Owner
Wife, Grandmother, Age 59
On-X Aortic Valve Recipient

“I have a valve that will last my lifetime.”

Marilyn was first diagnosed with a heart murmur at age 47, caused by a bicuspid valve in her heart (her aortic valve had only two working leaflets instead of three). She also had a family history of heart valve problems; her father had a bicuspid aortic valve and aortic valve surgery.
Read More




Patient story: Ron
Grandfather to 12
Golfer, Age 63
On-X Aortic Valve Recipient

“I did my research and On-X seemed to be the best valve for me, so I requested my surgeon use the On-X valve.”

Ron was diagnosed with aortic stenosis at the beginning of 8th grade. Aortic stenosis is when the aortic valve doesn’t open fully. In high school, he excelled at many sports and was named All-StaRte in baseball. Coincidentally, one of Ron’s school mates was Clyde Baker, a very good high school varsity basketball player who later became the CEO of On-X Life Technologies. It was four decades later when they met again, this time pulling for Ron’s life.
Read More




Patient story: Whitney
Active Mom of 2
Accountant, Age 33
On-X Aortic Valve Recipient

“I had to keep myself calm because I knew, with every heartbeat, that my insides were tearing open. I knew I was in God’s hands… I’m grateful that my surgeon, Dr. Mark Pool, selected the On-X valve for my emergency heart valve replacement surgery”

Just hours after Whitney delivered her second child, a premature daughter named Willow, she felt a sharp, unfamiliar pain in her chest. A CT scan confirmed that she had ruptured her aorta – the largest artery in the human body. The young mother suddenly found herself fighting for her life as she was airlifted from the local community hospital where she had given birth, to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.
Read More




Patient story: Neil
Age 18
On-X Aortic Valve Recipient

“Three different doctors suggested the On-X valve for Neil, because of its advanced design and materials – it will not wear out like tissue valves.”

Neil’s pediatrician first detected a heart murmur when the boy was two weeks old, and an echocardiogram test confirmed that he had a bicuspid aortic heart valve, a congenital condition in which the valve contains only two working leaflets rather than the usual three.
Read More


Mara McCabe

Patient Story: Mara
CryoValve Heart Valve
Ross Procedure Patient

No Longer on the Sidelines

Mara McCabe was diagnosed with aortic stenosis with insufficiency at the age of four. She was diagnosed by the family physician during a visit due to a cold. Fortunately, Mara experienced no symptoms during her childhood, although she was restricted from competitive sports.

Mara regularly visited a cardiologist from the time she was diagnosed. From age 4 to 21 she had an echocardiogram and EKG every year, and then after that she had an echo every other year. Mara was in her early 30s when she began to experience the symptom of fatigue. It was during a regular checkup that her cardiologist informed her that it was time for heart valve surgery. Mara’s cardiologist presented a couple of options, which included a mechanical valve and the Ross Procedure.
Read More

Stretch Ledford

Patient Story: Stretch
Runner, International Photojournalist
CryoValve Heart Valve
Ross Procedure Patient

“Dr. Paul Stelzer of The Mount Sinai Medical Center Named ‘Featured Heart Valve Surgeon’ at”
Charles “Stretch” Ledford was diagnosed with a bicuspid aortic valve at five months old. After living a healthy and relatively normal life for 43 years, it became necessary to replace this valve. Stretch opted for a Ross Procedure, which means his aortic valve was replaced with his own pulmonary valve. His pulmonary valve was then replaced with a cryopreserved donor heart valve from CryoLife, the CryoValve(R) Pulmonary Valve Allograft. Now more than two years post-op, Stretch says he continues to live a healthy and normal life, running 10K races and working as a photojournalist in far-flung places around the world.
Read More



Candy Murray

Patient Story: Candy
Mother and Nursing Student
SynerGraft Patient
CryoValve SG Heart Valve

“I got used to being in the hospital and I got used to the whole idea of it. When I was fifteen I was expecting to have more surgeries throughout the rest of my life.”

Candy was diagnosed with VSD (shortness of breath) which is when she says she knew something was wrong. “I would make Jessica (her daughter) carry a load of laundry down the stairs for me, because I couldn’t do it.”

Read More


Patient Resources

Click here to learn about
the Ross Procedure


American Heart Association
American Heart Association is a health organization which supports research and education to help prevent and treat cardiovascular disease.

Mended Hearts
Mended Hearts is a non-profit organization affiliated with American Heart Association offering education and support to patients and families facing heart disease.
Patient reference to answer questions about the heart valve replacement surgical process.
Support site for patients who have had or will have heart valve replacement.

American College of Cardiology
American College of Cardiology

CTSNet, Inc. is a not-for-profit corporation jointly created by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS), the American Association for Thoracic Surgery (AATS), and the European Association for Cardio-thoracic Surgery (EACTS).

The Adult Congenital Heart Association
The Adult Congenital Heart Association (ACHA) is a nonprofit organization which seeks to improve the quality of life and extend the lives of congenital heart defect survivors.

The Children’s Heart Foundation
Motivated by the needs of our children, the goal of The Children’s Heart Foundation is to bring health, hope and happiness to children impacted by congenital heart defects, the number one birth defect in the United States.

C.H.I.N. is a national organization that provides reliable information, support services, financial assistance and resources to families of children with congenital heart defects and acquired heart disease, adults with congenital heart defects, and the professionals who work with them.

European Congenital Heart Disease Organisation
European self-help-groups for congenital heart disease have united themselves under the umbrella of ECHDO (European Congenital Heart Disease Organisation).

The Aortic Dissection Social Network
Social media support group dedicated to questions & information for aortic dissection survivors & aortic aneurysm sufferers family & friends

NOTE: Links are not sponsored by CryoLife, Inc.. Web sites are managed by third party organizations and are provided for your convenience.