Several weeks ago, Nicholas Carano couldn’t walk to the bathroom without coughing. He didn’t even make it into the entrance of the Mercy Health – St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital emergency department before passing out.
Today, Nick can get to the restroom without coughing, doesn’t need to wear oxygen and feels as though he has his life back. All of this is because of a minimally invasive procedure known as MitraClip, which focuses on repairing mitral regurgitation caused by leaky mitral valves.
Historically, the only way to repair a leaky mitral valve was through open-heart surgery. However, not every patient is a candidate for traditional open-chest heart procedures.
“There are many reasons why a patient may be considered high-risk for what most of us know as open-heart surgery,” says Rami Kafa, MD, a Mercy Health interventional cardiologist. “For those at high risk, we can now use the MitraClip procedure to fix the leaky valve, eliminating the need for long recovery time and avoiding some of the high risks associated with traditional surgical interventions.”
Using a small tube inserted through the patient’s groin vein, the cardiologist enters the heart and makes their way to the leaky mitral valve. There, they place “the clip” to bring the mitral valve two parts close together, which reduces or eliminates the leakiness.
The procedure takes about two hours under anesthesia. The patient spends one or two nights in the hospital then returns to their normal activities; no downtime at all. For Nick, the results were life changing.
“Dr. Kafa gave me my life back. I can walk now. When I woke up, and I was able to go to the bathroom and get up and walk, no coughing. I couldn’t believe it. I just could not believe it.”
Nick Carano is one of the very first patients in the Mahoning Valley to have undergone the MitraClip procedure at Mercy Health – Youngstown. Before December 2020, patients in this community would have had to travel to Cleveland, OH or Pittsburgh, PA to benefit from this intervention.
“This is an evolutionary discipline and technique,” Dr. Kafa shares. “Already, many patients would benefit from a minimally invasive procedure. I believe as we continue to experience results like Mr. Carano’s, we will be able to expand the number of people who may qualify, further driving positive outcomes.”
Learn more about the heart and vascular services we offer at Mercy Health.