Susan Bass* felt tired. She frequently found herself out of breath, even while taking a leisurely walk around her neighborhood. “I thought I was just getting old,” she says, “but Dr. Shang assured me it was something else.”
Noninvasive cardiologist Paul Shang, MD, informed Susan that the mitral valve in her heart was leaking— reducing the ability of her heart to pump blood efficiently. Traditionally, her valve would be repaired through open-heart surgery, but for 80-year-old Susan, the surgery itself could have been life-threatening.
Fortunately, Dr. Shang and a team of cardiovascular physicians at General Hospital had just started performing a new, minimally invasive procedure called MitraClip, in which a thin tube, or catheter, holding a tiny clip is fed from a small incision in the leg or groin up through a blood vessel and into the heart, then positioned to seal off the leaky valve. After the procedure, patients often feel reinvigorated and re-energized.
Susan has certainly been putting her newfound energy to good use. She recently rode in a blimp, zip-lined in Colorado and parasailed in Lake Tahoe. She even achieved an item on her bucket list: taking part in a ride-along with the police department. In addition to cruising in a police car, Susan was schooled on firing an assault rifle and subduing an attacker (with a mannequin as a stand-in); she even caught a speeding motorist using a radar gun.
Since having the MitraClip procedure, Susan has made occasional gifts to support General Hospital in honor of her cardiologist. “I just give what I can, when I can,” she says. “General Hospital has always been my hospital, and I wouldn’t be here now without Dr. Shang. I can’t thank everyone enough!”
*Based on a true story. Names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of certain individuals.