Dr. Ashraf Elsakr helped a local mailman be able to walk to his own mailbox again.
A local doctor performed the first heart procedure of its kind in Volusia County earlier this summer, and the innovation could save future potential patients from having an open heart surgery.
AdventHealth Daytona Beach Cardiologist and Catheterization Lab Director Dr. Ashraf Elsakr trained in Munich, Germany, to learn how to perform a Transcatheter mitral-valve-in-valve surgery. Only about 2,000 surgeries of this kind have been performed nationwide since it was introduced in the U.S. two years ago. It consists of the replacing an existing artificial mitral heart valve with one made of bovine tissue and a stainless steel stent, which is licensed by medical device company Edward Lifesciences. The new valve is inserted through the groin, avoiding the need for open heart surgery.
The surgery is only available to patients who already have an artificial mitral valve, like New Smyrna Beach resident Kim Jackson.
In 2006, he had open heart surgery for an artificial mitral valve, and while it functioned well for over 10 years, he started having complications again around 2017. This year, his health took a turn for the worse and it got to the point Jackson, a mailman for 27 years, could barely walk outside of his house to take the garbage to the curb. He couldn't vacuum for more than 5 minutes, he recalled.
Elsakr told him about the new procedure. He also told Jackson he had never performed it before.
It made him think, Jackson said, but at the end of the day, he trusted Elsakr.
“It was more scary for my dad," Jackson said. "He was worried about it.”
Jackson was taking care of his two elderly parents at the time as well. He couldn't afford to be out of work for months after this surgery. His open heart procedure in 2006 forced him to take four months off to recover, and landed him in the hospital twice with complications.
The mitral valve-in-valve procedure was done on a Monday. By Tuesday, Jackson had started walking. His father came to pick him up from the hospital on Wednesday, and by that Friday, Jackson could walk a quarter mile to his mailbox from his front door.
“I never had to stop or do anything," Jackson said.
Elsakr said Jackson is one of his best patients.
“Kim is a great guy," Elsakr said. "What he does at work and what he does with his parents is just amazing.”
Jackson's father died a few days after Jackson's surgery. His father had been relieved after the surgery went well, Jackson said, and he wonders if that gave him the peace of mind to go.
Elsakr said this procedure can pave the way for new developments for both low-risk and high-risk cardiovascular patients in the future, and that its success with Jackson was a team effort at AdventHealth. He thanked the hospital, cath lab and surgical operating room personnel as well as Cardiovascular Surgeon Dr. John Holt, who performed the surgery with him.
“By helping the community know, we will be able to build that program better, get more cases, help more patients and also help the program to grow and have this available in Volusia County," Elsark said.