Melbourne hospital in heart surgery breakthrough

A Melbourne hospital has conducted the first successful trial of a treatment which allows surgeons to insert a replaceable heart valve without the need for open heart surgery.
Doctors at the heart unit at Monash Medical Centre have saved the lives of 11 elderly women who were suffering from aortic stenosis, or the degrading and narrowing of their main heart valve.
Instead, a replacement heart valve was inserted on the end of a wire through a small hole in the groin.
Dubbed a "lotus valve", the Israeli-manufactured valve opens up like a flower once inside the heart, and can be easily repositioned.
The trial – which has enjoyed a 100 per cent success rate – promises to help save the lives of senior patients around the world.
Muriel Satchwell, at 86, was one of the women brave enough to agree to take part in the trial.
"I’m not a whinger. I don’t particularly like whingers, and I knew I would be in good hands," Mrs Satchwell said.
"And I thought, if I die, I die."
Monash heart director Professor Ian Meredith beat off competition from the likes of Harvard University and the Mayo Clinic for the right to stage the first trials.
He says the prognosis for elderly aortic stenosis patients is usually about the same as people with advanced forms of cancer.
"When you have severe aortic valve narrowing and you become breathless as a consequence of that, more than half the people won’t survive 12 months," Professor Meredith said.
"Only about a third will survive two years."
Muriel Satchwell has beaten those odds, and is now fit, healthy and enjoying life.
"I am just delighted to have been a part of it," she said. "I’m just thrilled to bits."
"As I told Professor Meredith, I just feel so privileged."
Professor Meredith says he will now lead a wider, international trial of the device.
"This will have a significant impact on patients all around the world because this is a very common problem in the elderly," he said.
Sixteen facilities in four countries will take part in the new trial.