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New heart procedure performed at Kalispell hospital

Posted: 8:14 PM, Mar 28, 2019
Updated: 2019-03-29 09:09:09-04

KALISPELL – Kalispell Regional Medical Center just performed the first successful minimal invasive valve replacement of its kind on veteran Paul Faso.

Ten years after Faso, 74, had major open heart surgery he began experiencing shortness of breath and dizziness. These were all symptoms he recognized.

Seeking medical attention from cardiac specialists, Dr. Mayank Agrawal and Dr. Drew Kirshner at Kalispell Regional Medical Center, it was determined Faso’s valve needed replacing.

KRMC Heart Valve
Kalispell Regional Medical Center just performed the first successful minimal invasive valve replacement of its kind. (MTN News photo)

At Faso’s age and previous heart surgery, doctors decided open heart surgery would be too risky so to protect Faso, the first minimally invasive valve replacement surgery in the Flathead Valley was performed.

“Without opening the chest, we can place this valve with a beating heart and the procedure usually takes about an hour an hour and a half to do and the patients are up and around walking within several hours of the procedure,” says Dr. Agrawal.

Both Dr. Agrawal and Dr. Kirshner explained to MTN that Faso’s existing valve was pushing blood backward to his lung rather than away, giving Faso shortness of breath. The new valve opens the artery and pushes the blood in the right direction.

Despite this being the hospital’s first time performing the procedure, Faso says he had no doubt in his medical team.

“I had total trust in the doctors and the staff and the operating room I’m sure was filled with a lot of people because they wanted to be sure if there was an eventuality where they had to open me up they could do that also. So, it was all explained to me, and I was really very prepared,” says Faso.

Faso’s recovery time has been exceptional following this surgery. He tells MTN he was up and walking within two days, whereas his last open heart surgery had him recovering for weeks.