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Karl Roberts

Emergency Heart Valve Surgery

Karl Roberts has suffered from mitral valve prolapse for the last 35 years. Mitral valve prolapse occurs when there is an improper closure of the valve between the heart’s upper and lower left chambers. The condition isn’t typically life-threatening, but one night things turned pretty serious for Karl. 

“I was thinking it was another panic attack, because the symptoms were very much the same,” says Karl.  “Then it kept getting a little worse, and I eventually had to lay down on the ground.”

Karl’s son Ryan rushed him to the nearest hospital in Columbus, Georgia.

“The emergency room doctor heard a murmur,” says Ryan. “And my dad said, ‘I do have mitral valve prolapse.’ And the doctor said, ‘This sounds a little more serious than a regular prolapse. This sounds like something’s going on. We need to get in there and check it out.’”

An emergency situation

Sensing the severity of the situation, the doctor decided to immediately transport Karl to Piedmont’s Marcus Heart Valve Center in Atlanta.

Ryan remembers the doctor telling his family, "You don’t know how lucky you are. The doctor on call tonight is Dr. Federico Milla, and he’s the best valve replacement and repair surgeon in the world. I’ve already talked to him and they are expecting you.”

A turning point

“The night that my dad got to Piedmont, Dr. Milla described what was going on with my dad, and what they hoped they could do,” says Ryan. “The best outcome they would want is to repair his valve.”

During Karl’s surgery, Dr. Milla’s team continuously updated and informed Karl’s family about the procedure.

“They made us feel reassured that they were taking care of things,” says Ryan. “And they were comfortable with what was going on. There was no panic at all to them.”

In the end, Karl’s surgery was a success, and he is grateful for his life.

“I’m very grateful, because of course it saved my life,” says Karl. “And I get to enjoy spending time with my family and my grandkids.”

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