3-time cancer survivor was saved thanks to a little clip in revolutionary heart procedure

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - There's a revolutionary alternative to open heart surgery and that procedure is now available at a Midlands hospital.

Instead of an extensive and challenging surgery, the procedure uses a clip called a "MitraClip" to fix a leak in the mitral valve.

So far there has been 1 patient who has had the procedure done at Providence Health in Columbia. The patient, Agatha McDonald, could not get open heart surgery, because her heart could not take the procedure.

The clip, she said, saved her life and, made her recovery much smoother.

Upbeat, mobile, and most importantly, alive, McDonald saw the life-saving clip in her body for the first time Thursday.

"I just see it as a huge blessing," McDonald said.

It's a blessing that hopefully means the end of a battle.

"I've had cancer three times," McDonald said.

Over time, the treatment caused damage to her lungs and heart.

"So I wasn't really a good candidate for the traditional open heart surgery," McDonald said.

The problem the clip sets out to correct is a leak of the mitral valve, which can be very problematic to the patient.

"And allow blood to flow backwards, when that happens, it can lead to symptoms of heart failure," Dr. Garrison Morgan, who performed the procedure on McDonald, said.

For Morgan, the procedure is a new beginning for Midlands patients that can't undergo open heart surgery.

"The risk is much less, as far as the clip compared to surgery and the length of stay is much better, most of the times with surgery you're talking 3-5 days recovery time," Morgan said.

"This procedure was a day," McDonald said.

That's time saved to spend with her son and family all thanks to a little clip.

This procedure happened a week ago and she's doing great. Dr. Morgan said open heart surgery is still the standard procedure for the condition and that the MitraClip is for cases that cannot go through open heart surgery.

The procedure will be expanded, Dr. Morgan said they plan to have 6 more patients undergo the procedure within this month.

The MitraClip is made by Abbott. Providence Health says any patients interested in pursuing this treatment option can discuss it with their doctors or contact the Providence Heart Structural Heart program by calling 803-673-0925.

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