Mike Thomas

Patient Stories: Mike


Age: 54
Active Cyclist, Athlete
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.”

Without surgery, Mike was risking heart failure.

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.

An avid road and mountain biker, Mike’s condition became especially evident during high-intensity cycling events such as cyclocross, road bike sprints, and mountain biking. His doctors told him if he didn’t get an aortic valve replacement, he faced the risk of heart failure.


“My doctor recommended the On-X Valve because of its advanced technology.”

“My surgeons at the Durham VA Medical Center in Durham, NC recommended a mechanical valve because of my young age (54),” Mike says. “My doctors told me that a tissue valve would wear out and require additional surgical heart valve replacements. And the On-X aortic valve would allow me to take lower blood thinner levels.”

“Dr. Williams told me that the On-X all carbon valve was the ‘state of the art valve,’ and with the On-X valve replacement, my international normalized ratio (INR) would be barely above his,” he adds.

“I have a new lease on life.”

Mike with new lease on life

Mike reports that his recovery process has been great since his surgery in late March 2015. Since then, Mike has been back on the bike and ridden thousands of miles.

Mike said “I feel blessed to have a new lease on life. I thank God for placing the doctors, the nurses, and the On-X technology before me to enable a wonderful outcome. I am feeling better than ever, and I’m looking forward to continuing my cycling activities for many years to come.”


NOTE: This story reflects one person’s experience. Talk to your doctor about your situation and possible treatment options.

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