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Cow’s heart valve saves 81 year old woman; All eyes on her survival time

In a remarkable medical success story, an 81-year-old woman from Hyderabad rekindled her life by getting a valve donation from a cow while undergoing a valve replacement surgery.

The woman was experiencing thinning of the aortic valve in her heart and required the valve replacement surgery that was conducted at Frontier Lifeline Hospitals in Chennai, last Saturday.


Representational picture of an operation underway.

She had been through a valve replacement surgery for the first time, 11 years before. However, she began to have issues related to heart malfunction caused due to thinning of the aortic valve over the past one year.

The surgery that was conducted by a group of four surgeons, examined the condition of the woman and on getting green signal decided to go ahead with the operation.

A report by Economic Times said that after being turned down by many hospitals, the woman went to Frontier in April.

Dr. Anantharaman, who conducted the surgery, said that the woman came to them with problems of acute breathing difficulty and constant hospital admittance before tests revealed that her aortic valve had thinned down.

Defying the usual process of open heart surgery to eliminate the valve, the doctors chose to go for a less complex process as the woman was not only old, but had also gone through radiotherapy for breast cancer treatment earlier.

Dr. Anantharaman explained that explosion to radiotherapy had made the tissues in the woman’s heart to get stuck, thereby putting her at elevated risk. Since she had undergone a valve replacement operation before, the doctors had opted for a  new bioprosthetic valve inside the old one.

The surgery that lasted for more than three hours was a success with the patient in a steady condition now.

A report by the University of Texas said that the process of using animal organs to save human lives is called xenotransplantation. It added that although, no medical success stories of this method have come up until now the efforts that have been conducted were not futile.

The report added that Suzanne Ildstad who is the director of the Institute for Cellular Therapeutics in Louisville conducted an animal to human bone-marrow transplantation in 1995. She transplanted a baboon’s bone-marrow into a man namely “Jeff Getty” who has HIV and AIDS.

The initial hope was to substitute Getty’s deteriorating immune system with the baboon immune system, which could protect him from further infection. Although, the baboon cells worked only for a couple of weeks, Getty is still able to live on.

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