Features February 2008 Issue

Heart Surgeries Can’t Slow Down Patient with a Passion for Living

Robert Hamill wisely sought a second opinion after hearing that his damaged tricuspid valve needed replacement.

Robert Hamill may not exactly be a poster child for heart disease survival, but he’s close—and in more ways than one. After two heart surgeries, the 53-year-old Pennsylvania man with a passion for whitewater kayaking still attacks rushing rivers across the country. A photo—not quite a poster—of Hamill in his kayak, just four months after his second surgery, adorns the office door of Cleveland Clinic heart surgeon Gosta Pettersson, MD. In March 2007, Dr. Pettersson performed an isolated tricuspid valve repair on Hamill—an uncommon surgery, but one made necessary after Hamill injured the valve in a skiing accident two years earlier. The torn valve leaflet was reconstructed using GORE-TEX sutures and a ring was implanted around the base of the valve. Hamill was back on his feet and into his kayak within a month of the procedure.

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