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A Second Chance after Mitral Valve Stenosis

Heart patient Whitney Bailey.

October 08, 2018

When Whitney Bailey, an associate professor at Oklahoma State University (OSU), heard her cardiologist's words, she was stunned. Without medical intervention, she would die before her son's 3rd birthday.

The mitral valve in her heart had become so severely narrow, she was within 6 months of suffering a fatal stroke. Bailey was diagnosed with severe rheumatic mitral valve stenosis. A typical mitral valve area is 4-6 square centimeters (cm2). Bailey's was less than 1 at just 0.6 cm2.

Only a transcatheter mitral balloon valvuplasty, a complex procedure, could mend her heart and save her life.

Destination of choice

Bailey heard recommendations for the Mayo Clinic and Massachusetts General Hospital. But she wanted to know more and did her own research. She found an interventional cardiologist experienced in the procedure she needed at The University of Kansas Health System.

When Bailey met with interventional cardiologist Peter Tadros, MD, "He did everything right. I had no doubts about his skills. He knew my clinical needs within minutes, but then took the time to get to know me and my personal situation," she says.

"I was so impressed with Dr. Tadros that I declined an invitation to have my procedure at Massachusetts General Hospital," she says. "There are great health centers all over our region. But The University of Kansas Health System team has something extraordinary that truly made all the difference."

Before her surgery, Bailey couldn't even pull weeds in her garden without feeling lightheaded and nearly passing out. A year later, she was learning to surf in Hawaii.

Today, Bailey's family has grown. She remarried and has 2 teenage stepdaughters. And Bailey's son is nearly 7.

"He knows Mommy had her 'heart fixed' but doesn't remember because he was so young," she says. "I love that I seem just like any other active mom to him. If it weren't for Dr. Tadros, he wouldn't have his momma."

Now in her 9th year at OSU, she says her health has been a huge asset. Her OSU students agree. They nominated Bailey for the Oklahoma State University Regents Distinguished Teaching Award, which she received.

Dr. Tadros gave me my life. I am trying to make the best of the second chance I was given. – Whitney Bailey

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