Patient Stories: Neil
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.”
Diagnosed at 2 months old
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.
But it was only when Neil became a teenager and more physically active, that he began experiencing dizzy spells and tiring more quickly, which can be symptoms of aortic valve problems.
Neil’s father asked other doctors about which valve would be best for his son.
Realizing that surgical replacement of the faulty heart valve is the standard treatment for his son’s condition, Neil’s father, himself a doctor specializing in cardiac anesthesiology, began asking doctors he worked with and respected about which valve would be the best for his son.
Since tissue valves wear out even quicker with younger patients, it was important to select a valve that will last a lifetime.
According to Neil’s father, a family friend — a cardiac anesthesiologist in London — was the first to recommend the On-X valve, which he said was used extensively in Europe with good clinical results. Instead of replacement valves made of animal tissue, which tend to have a limited lifespan of 10-15 years, mechanical valves like an On-X valve can last a patient’s lifetime. Ultimately, three different doctors recommended an On-X valve for Neil.
Enjoying life as an active teenager
In 2010, Neil received his On-X valve, implanted by Dr. Ed Raines. Today, Neil is enjoying life as an active teenager, with future plans of attending college and majoring in health science.
Now cardiologists are safely managing patients like Neil at much lower blood thinner levels, thanks to the recent FDA ruling only for On-X aortic valve patients.
Neil checks his blood-thinning medication with a home monitoring device weekly. Recently, his overall blood thinning medication dosage was lowered by his cardiologist, in keeping with the Food and Drug Administration’s ruling that patients with On-X aortic heart valves could safely do so under a doctor’s supervision.
NOTE: This story reflects one person’s experience. Talk to your doctor about your situation and possible treatment options.