Lincoln hospital performs breakthrough surgery

By: Rachael Witter

A Lincoln hospital is one of the first in the United States to perform a breakthrough procedure on some heart disease patients, and it doesn't require open heart surgery.

The Nebraska Heart Hospital just performed one of the first aortic valve replacement surgeries back in December. It's a new take on a procedure for those who might not have another option.

Patients with Aortic Stenosis, a condition where one of the heart's valves is narrowed, may now have another treatment option. The procedure is for patients who are considered high-risk, or can't have traditional open-heart surgery.

A Hastings man was one of the first patients to ever receive this treatment in the United States. “Before the surgery, I couldn't even walk from the house to the driveway without being out of breath. I had fluid in my lungs and I just couldn't get around,” said Sylvester Kimminau.

Instead of a traditional open-heart surgery, this procedure uses a catheter starting at the thigh. An expandable heart valve is moved into the heart through the catheter. The whole procedure takes about two hours and the recovery period is generally pretty quick.

“If we look at the defibrillators, medications, typically the numbers are from 30 to 40 patients to save one life. With this procedure, we treat five patients to save one life,” said Dr. Denes Korpas, Interventional Cardiologist.

Kimminau says simple things like walking from the driveway to the house come a lot easier now after the procedure. “I can do a lot better now, it's a big improvement,” said Kimminau.

The procedure was just approved by the FDA in November, and since then, the Nebraska Heart Hospital has performed two of them.