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For Valve Repair Patients, Hoag is a Destination

Angela Canlas lives in Nevada, but when she was diagnosed with a heart murmur, her cardiologist said that if she were his daughter, there’s only one doctor he’d send her to and she’d have to head to Newport Beach.

Leaving Nevada to receive mitral valve repair surgery wasn’t easy for Angela. It meant she had to miss her son’s first few weeks of first grade. It meant a hospital stay in a community that wasn’t her own. But, she knew that coming to Hoag to undergo the procedure also meant expert care by one of the world’s most experienced mitral valve repair surgeons, Aidan A. Raney, M.D., James & Pamela Muzzy Endowed Chair in Cardiovascular Surgery.

Given the difficulty of the decision and the enormity of the surgery, Angela still cries when she talks about it one year later. But she is relieved that she received robotic-assisted mitral valve repair surgery at Hoag’s Jeffrey M. Carlton Heart & Vascular Institute.

“While they were doing the surgery, they found a hole in my heart that I apparently was born with, so they closed that up, too,” said Angela, 50. “My heart is completely fine now. I am so grateful.”

Angela no longer gasps for breath when she speaks, she can chase her 7-year-old son around without raising her heart rate to dangerous levels and her heart murmur is gone.

Dr. Raney, medical director of cardiovascular surgery at Hoag, is a leader in minimally-invasive techniques that allow patients to undergo major surgeries with minimal incisions and much easier recovery periods. For Angela’s surgery, Dr. Raney made three tiny incisions in her side utilizing special instruments to perform her mitral valve repair.

Pravin Shah, M.D., an internationally renowned pioneer of echocardiography, performed 3D echocardiography (a highly advanced ultrasound of the heart) on Angela to ensure the best possible outcome.

Although the American College of Cardiology recommends this approach to mitral valve regurgitation when appropriate, too few surgeons have enough experience to perform the intricate surgery. Instead, many patients undergo an open-chest surgery to replace the valve, not repair it, and are left with a six-inch scar afterward.

“You can’t even see it,” Angela said, of the incisions.

Hoag’s well-earned reputation for patient care and positive outcomes means that people like Angela come to Hoag from across the country expecting expert treatment. What they don’t expect is the high level of personal care that comes with it.

“From the time I got there for pre-op, to my surgery and my entire stay, through the very last moment, everyone was so nice and sweet and kind,” Angela said. “I thought, ‘Everybody here is just outstanding.’”

Mitral valve repair patient Jenny Murphy agrees. It has been 10 years since Jenny, now 35, left the Bay Area to undergo surgery with Drs. Raney and Shah at Hoag, and she says the quality of the surgery and commitment of the staff has her singing the hospital’s praises even after a decade.

“I work in the medical field, so when I’m in a medical situation I tend to manage things and make sure they go OK,” said Jenny, a pharmacist now living in Bend, Oregon with her husband and three children. “At Hoag, the care is so comprehensive and the medical team is so attentive that I could just lie back and heal. I didn’t have to manage anything because they know what they’re doing. As a patient, you feel safe.”

For more information, call 888-375-4003.