Jeremy Thiessen Jeremy Thiessen

First post: 6/9/2017 Latest post: 7/20/2017
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Jeremy was born with a congenital heart defect known as a bicuspid aortic valve.  A "normal" aortic valve has 3 leaflets, resembling a "peace sign".  Jeremy's valve had 2 leaflets, which can affect the flow of blood from the left ventricle of the heart out through the aorta, by passing through this valve.
This is not all that uncommon of a condition, and can go undetected for years, or even decades, based on the individual.  
Jeremy was followed as a young child, by his primary care physician, with the occasional visit to a pediatric cardiologist, to track any changes in the valve by echocardiograms, which track the flow of blood through the heart, and measure the valves and heart chambers.  Other than an early recommendation that he avoid direct-contact sports and heavy weight lifting, which could put unnecessary increased pressure on the heart, he was able to lead a normal life.
In July 2003, Jeremy became sick with high fevers of unknown origin.  After several ER visits, and no results in decreasing the fever with any amount of pain medication, he was admitted to the hospital, and diagnosed with Endocarditis, or infection of the heart.  This disease literally destroyed the bicuspid valve, making replacement surgery imminent.  
On October 1, 2003, following 8 weeks of IV antibiotics, Jeremy underwent his initial open heart surgery to replace the diseased valve.  After many conversations with the surgeon, we chose to replace with a tissue valve, coming from a pig, versus a titanium mechanical valve.  Reasoning was pretty simple, mechanical valves require lifetime blood thinning by taking warfarin, or Coumadin.  Taking Coumadin long-term has risks of blood-related events, like stroke or internal bleeding.  As he was 26 at the time, we concluded that "buying" 10-15 years with a tissue valve, which does not require blood thinning, was the best option for us.
The downside of the tissue valve leads us to where we are today.  They unfortunately don't last a lifetime.  We were told that is would likely last 10-15 years, and made it 13.5.  And what a 13.5 years it has been!  3 kids, 2 moves, a job change, and lots and lots of great memories...
So, we are now preparing for what will hopefully be the final replacement, with the mechanical valve, as the tissue valve was basically a one-time option due to the risks of multiple open-heart surgeries.  Due to the infection that complicated Jeremy's first surgery, as well as his "young" age at 40:), we are being referred to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN for this procedure.  
We thank you for your prayers and support in the upcoming weeks and months!

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