David Byrne, a 38-year-old teacher, coach and father of young triplets, was born with a heart valve defect called a bicuspid aortic valve. He knew about his condition and kept a close eye on it throughout his life until his symptoms worsened in 2010. David felt more tired and short of breath than before, and visited his doctor for a check-up. David’s conditioned had worsened, becoming aortic stenosis—a narrowing of the aortic valve. His doctor said he needed an aortic valve replacement. David chose to have a mechanical valve implanted at the Medical University of South Carolina. Cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. John Ikonomidis performed the surgery, and replaced David’s malformed aortic valve with a hinged mechanical valve. The valve is extremely durable, and is designed to last a lifetime. With his new valve in place, David is more active than ever and able to keep up with his triplets without running out of breath.
Watch David talk about his decision to have heart valve replacement surgery at MUSC, and hear Dr. Ikonomidis discuss how the mechanical valve works.