Baptist's cardiothoracic surgeon gives 38 year-old a new lease on life

January 26, 2022

Austin Ward, MD, Baptist Health Medical Group Cardiothoracic Surgery, performed a mitral valve repair.

(Paducah, KY.) – Jan, 21, 2022 – When 38 year-old Calvert City resident, Garett Travis, began taking rests while showering, he knew something was wrong and made an appointment to see his primary care provider, Ashley Jessup, MD, at Baptist Health Medical Group Family Medicine in Calvert City. 

After a referral to see interventional cardiologist, Stephen Frossard, DO, Baptist Health Medical group Cardiology, it was discovered through tests that Garett’s mitral valve was not functioning properly. The mitral valve is a one way valve that blood flows through after leaving the lungs full of oxygen and into the main pumping chamber of the heart. The purpose of the valve itself is to keep oxygenated blood moving forward to the body and away from the lungs. The most common valvular heart disease that patients have is mitral valve prolapse, or a leaking mitral valve.  For Garett, this was the cause of his recent changes in his energy level, shortness of breath, and fatigue. 

At this stage, Austin Ward, MD, Baptist Health Medical Group Cardiothoracic Surgery, performed a mitral valve repair, resulting in the valve returning to its normal functionality and longevity.  While the issues with the mitral valve are commonly seen in patients in their 40s or older, Dr. Ward knew this procedure was the key to bringing Garett back to his normal levels of activity prior to his symptoms.

“When an otherwise healthy 38 year-old is experiencing significantly decreased exercise capacity, continuous fatigue and struggles with daily tasks, there is concern,” said Dr. Ward. “Our goal was to get him back to his desired energy levels and provide the best outcome which is a fully repaired valve.”

There are multiple options for treatment of a mitral valve, with the traditional solution being the replacement of the valve itself with either a tissue valve or mechanical one.  In some patients, that is still the best course of treatment. For Garett, his valve was fully repaired using advanced surgical techniques to fix the parts of the valve that were leaking.  With this procedure, patients keep their native valve but without the leaking. 

Mitral valve repair has been essential in Garett’s return to living life to the fullest.  Post-surgery, Garett praised the continuous level of care he received at Baptist Health Paducah.  One of the most reassuring parts of his recovery was being able to be so close to home for the procedure.  “Baptist Health Paducah has the best care from the nurses and doctors available,” said Garett.  “Having world class care and outcomes like mine right here at home is the best experience I could have.”

Garett and his wife Blair have been enjoying life as they used to.  After his surgery and to Garett’s surprise, he was able to ride 10 miles on his mountain bike without stopping that sat in his garage for over a year due to his symptoms.  According to Garett, “I’m taking full advantage of life now and I thank Dr. Ward and Baptist for giving me that opportunity.”

Baptist Health Medical Group Cardiothoracic Surgery is located in Walker Medical Park 1, Suite 300, on the hospital campus. If you would like more information about mitral valve repair, contact your primary care provider to see if you are a candidate for referral to BHMG Cardiology or BHMG Cardiothoracic Surgery.