New Device, Hybrid Team Restore Ailing Heart Valves Once Inoperable


With his wife, Shon, at his side, and a new valve aiding his heart's pumping action, "I'm happy again. My family's happy again," Verwer said.

He was doing nothing but sitting and sleeping. There was really something wrong.

-Shon Verwer, wife of Gary Verwer, Stanford Hospital & Clinics patient

"I feel alive again," Verwer said. "I feel I can do anything I want, and I’ve got my positive outlook on life again. I’ll be dancing with my granddaughter at her wedding and I’ll be playing golf again."

  • When all is well, the heart, the body's hardest working muscle, beats about 80 times a minute, pumping 3 billion times in an average lifetime.
  • Arteries transport blood from the heart into the body; veins carry the blood back to the heart.
  • The heart has four chambers; each of the heart's four valves open to allow forward flow of the blood and close to prevent backward flow.
  • The heart and its major vessels are among the most common sites for birth defects.

Symptoms of Heart Disease

Consider seeing your doctor if you experience difficulty breathing, light-headedness, irregular heartbeat or an inability to perform normal activities.

When the Heart Goes Wrong

  • Coronary heart disease caused one in six deaths in the United States in 2008.
  • The American Heart Association projects that by 2030, 40.5% of the U.S. population will have form of cardiovascular disease.
  • Age increases risk: 35.5 percent of men and 20.8 percent of women age 80 and above suffered from coronary heart disease, according to 2005-2008 data gathered by the National Center for Health Statistics and National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

We both walked out of there very confident that they could do what they said they could do and do it without a hiccup.

-Gary Verwer, Stanford Hospital & Clinics patient

After the valve replacement, it's like night and day. It's an incredible technique that offers so much for patients who really had no other treatment option.

-Michael Fischbein, MD, cardiac surgeon, Stanford Hospital & Clinics

Verwer represents a growing population of patients whose age has brought serious health challenges. Aortic stenosis, the most common type of valvular disease, develops most often after age 60.