Hospital Volunteer & Heart Health Advocate
On-X Mitral Valve Recipient
“Since having the new On-X mitral heart valve, I am back up to riding eight miles on my bike each day. “
Mischel Satunas’ Improved Quality of Life, Thanks to her
On-X Mitral Valve Replacement
Mischel Satunas was born with a functional heart murmur, and has been symptomatic her entire life. After visiting a cardiologist at the age of 21, she was diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse, but didn’t realize the far-reaching implications of this diagnosis, and she went on with her life. Despite some complications relating to her congenital heart defect, she has always led an active lifestyle, and enjoyed riding her bike and going to the gym with her husband.
During a routine annual exam, Mischel’s doctor was listening to her irregular heartbeat and told her she was experiencing mitral valve prolapse, and she needed surgery to correct her floppy mitral valve. She was only 38 years old.
“The cardiologist listened to my heart and said, “It’s time.” When I asked him, “For what?” he replied, ‘Your mitral valve is flopping all over the place. It’s why you’re having palpitations and other difficulty with breathing and exercising, and even daily movement. You’re going to need open-heart surgery.”
Mischel was shocked, but scheduled her surgery for a few weeks later. Afterwards, she didn’t feel well, and still had difficulty with daily movement. When she visited her doctor, he prescribed her anti-anxiety medication, but Mischel knew there was still something that wasn’t right.
A few years later, Mischel and her husband relocated to Nashville, but she was still having complications related to her first surgery. She went to a cardiologist who discovered the ring used in her mitral valve repair had come out of place and was now an obstruction, and he recommended another surgery for Mischel immediately. Mischel was insistent on having the surgery in New York, so she could be near family, so she and her husband moved back, and she had her surgery just a few days later.
Mischel’s surgeon replaced her mitral valve ring used in her first surgery with a bioprosthetic valve. She saw improvement immediately after the surgery, but after a few months, all of her previous symptoms returned, and even worsened. She visited doctors, insistent she was still sick, but doctors were unable to diagnose her, and instead she was given more prescriptions for anti-anxiety medication. However, Mischel’s gut told her she was having a heart issue, and for the next ten years, she visited various doctors to try and find a cure for her ongoing symptoms.
In the fall of 2011, Mischel found herself remarkably sicker than she had ever been, and she was sent to the emergency room after collapsing on the floor and having severe abdominal pain. Once admitted, Mischel learned that she was in stage-four heart failure, and was in dire need of surgery to correct it. Her surgeon replaced her faulty mitral valve with an On-X Mitral valve, repaired another valve and performed a procedure to fix her abnormal heartbeat.
Since having her new On-X valve, Mischel is back up to riding eight miles a day on her bike. She is heavily involved in her community and volunteers with the American Heart Association, autism awareness groups and provides assistance to local combat veterans. She also volunteers at a local cancer foundation, and at the very same hospital that saved her life.
“Since having the new On-X mitral heart valve, I am back up to riding eight miles on my bike each day. I happily lunge up the stairs now. I chase my grandchildren around. I am so grateful that I got to be here, to be with the people I love. This valve saved my life and it gave me a better quality of life than I had.“
Mischel will celebrate five years in October 2016 with her On-X Mitral Valve.
NOTE: This story reflects one person’s experience. Talk to your doctor about your situation and possible treatment options.