Scio man doesn't take heart condition sitting down

Dec 7,2011
In 1999, Scio resident Wayne Laird got some shocking news at a routine physical. At age 45, he had been feeling weaker than usual and experienced some numbness in his arm, but when his physician told him he needed heart surgery, he was in disbelief.

“I didn’t have high cholesterol, plaque in my arteries or a history of heart disease in my family,” explains Laird. “I never suspected that I had heart problems.”

Laird was an unusual case — he had an aortic valve gone bad.

“No one knows exactly why my valve stopped working properly,” says Laird. “It could have been from a bacterial infection or something genetic.”

Surgery was scheduled quickly to replace Laird’s valve with an artificial valve made from a cow. Surgeons also implanted a pacemaker due to damage that had been created by the faulty valve.

Within a few months, Laird was back to his active lifestyle with an on-your-feet job as a motorcycle mechanic.

Everything seemed normal until the summer of 2009.

On a vacation with one of his sons in Bend, Laird found himself feeling abnormally tired and weak. The group was caving, hiking, and enjoying the outdoors — he figured the fatigue may have been due to the 90 degree weather, but decided to visit his doctor when he
returned home and wasn’t feeling better.

“They did an echocardiogram, which showed my new valve was leaking,” says Laird. “I knew that the valve may not last forever, but I was not looking forward to a surgery so soon. I was happy when they told me this time I’d get a titanium valve.”

Mechanical valves have been fined-tuned in recent years and are built to last a lifetime, but require daily blood thinner.

Dr. Mark Taylor, the cardiothoracic surgeon with Samaritan Heart & Vascular Institute who performed the surgery, said Laird’s intensive procedure produced an excellent outcome.

“We not only replaced Wayne’s previous artificial aortic valve, we repaired his
mitral and tricuspid valves and gave him a new pacemaker,” said Dr. Taylor. “It was
an extensive procedure that involved almost every area of the heart.”

After the procedure, Laird wanted to get his strength back quickly and decided to participate in the cardiac rehabilitation program at Samaritan Albany General Hospital. Just 29 days after surgery, he started rehab.

“It was quite the program,” says Laird.“There were days I said ‘this is too hard,’ but the staff motivated me to keep going. When I started, I could barely get in and out of the car. After six weeks, I felt strong and healthy.”

Not only did Laird head back to his physically demanding job, he took his fitness to a new level. In the summer of 2010, he participated in two different races in Eugene. He also began to ride his bicycle every day on his lunch break.

“I feel great now. I didn’t want to be helpless so I made a choice to get better.”