When she saw her family physician for a checkup, Walker mentioned how she wasn't able to do the things she normally did, such as playing with her grandchildren or working in her garden.
"I was so short of breath," she says. "I'd wake up in the middle of the night unable to breathe."
Walker knew she had a heart condition. In her early 20s, she was diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse, a condition that usually causes no problems and needs no treatment. For her, however, the valve between her left upper heart chamber and her left lower heart chamber was leaking severely, stressing her heart and lungs.
Now in her 50s, Walker needed treatment. Based on an echocardiogram, which captures images of the heart and measures its function, her doctor recommended she see a specialist for a procedure to repair her mitral valve.
Walker was concerned.
"I've had too much experience with open heart surgery," she says.
Her daughter was born with a congenital heart defect and has had 2 surgeries, one at only 4 years old. And her 19-year-old nephew also had open heart surgery.
At first, Walker thought her only option for minimally invasive surgery was at Mayo Clinic. But after doing some research, she found expertise close to home. Emmanuel Daon, MD, a cardiothoracic surgeon at The University of Kansas Health System, uses the da Vinci® Surgical System to perform complex mitral valve repair.