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Back in the saddle

Milestone heart procedure patient looks forward to the life ahead.

Article Author: Wesley Roberts

Article Date:

A women on a horse with a man standing beside the horse and the woman.
Thomas Field was looking forward to an active lifestyle, including riding horses with his wife, Jane.

“I wanted to do as little as possible,” recalled Thomas Field, a St. Augustine resident who had previously enjoyed a very active lifestyle. “I had no initiative to do anything, which was very contrary to my last 72 years.”

Field had a mitral regurgitation, the most common type of heart valve disease, in which the valve between the upper and lower left chambers of the heart doesn’t fully close. This causes blood to flow backward through the valve, causing symptoms like tiredness and shortness of breath.

He was constantly exhausted and knew it was time for a change. That’s when he was referred to Ruby Satpathy, MD, FACC, FSCAI, interventional cardiologist and medical director of the Structural Heart Program at Baptist Health.

“When seeing a patient, I always ask myself, ‘What would I do if he or she were my family member?’” said Dr. Satpathy.

MitraClip™ milestone moment

Dr. Satpathy decided a mitral valve repair was an excellent option for Field. In the innovative procedure, a specially trained structural heart specialist guides a catheter through the vein in the groin up to the heart and carefully implants a MitraClip™ device, which helps the heart valve close properly. A “magic stitch” closes the small incision, which typically allows patients to walk a few hours after the procedure and go home the next day.

“Transcatheter therapies have revolutionized cardiology care. I feel fortunate to have had the experience of doing these complex structural heart procedures for almost 15 years now,” said Dr. Satpathy, who was involved in many of the landmark trials that led to FDA approval of these devices over the last decade.

Dr. Satpathy’s expertise brought comfort to Field. In fact, he was a milestone patient – the 300th mitral valve repair at Baptist Health and the 250th for Dr. Satpathy.

“Right after the clip was put in, I started to feel better,” said Field. “I’m looking forward to getting back to doing the things I love.”

Minimally invasive magic

“Minimally invasive procedural options, like the mitral valve repair, give us the ability to ‘treat the untreatable,’” said Dr. Satpathy. “Patients, like Mr. Field, can avoid open-heart surgery and get back to feeling better right away.”

And Field personally knows just how different the recovery process is between open-heart surgery and the minimally invasive mitral valve repair.

“I had a heart attack in 2019 and went through bypass surgery; it felt like life or death,” recalled Field. “With the clip procedure, there’s no pain or discomfort. It was unbelievable.”

Rediscovering the outdoors

In recent years, prior to his procedure, Field couldn’t get outside with his wife, Jane, and enjoy their beautiful property. Just four weeks post-procedure, he sees a bright future ahead for them both.

“I’m looking forward to kayaking again after almost two years,” said Field. “I just didn’t have the strength or endurance before. It’ll be great to be back.”

Field is excited to enjoy his property, take care of his horses and chickens, and play with his giant Mastiff dog. The couple also lives near the Guana Reserve, where they’re going to get back to long trail walks together.

A true family man, Field is happy to have more energy to spend time with the people he loves most: Jane, his children and his grandchildren.

“I’m thankful for every day. There’s a lot to look forward to now,” said Field.

The Structural Heart Program at Baptist Health is the highest volume program in the Northeast Florida region, offering an array of innovative treatment options for conditions that impact the heart’s structure. To learn more, visit baptistjax.com/valve or call 904.202.9500.

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