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Man Enjoys Activities Following Complex Heart Surgery

When Steve Aerni of Albany needed heart surgery for an aortic aneurysm, he was happy to find out he would be able to have the surgery done close to home, in the mid-Willamette Valley at the Samaritan Heart & Vascular Institute.

He’d been told he might need to go as far as Stanford Hospital in California for the surgery known as the David procedure and named for Tirone David, the surgeon who developed the technique. This procedure offers the possibility of being able to keep your own aortic valve, rather than requiring the insertion of a mechanical valve or one made from the tissues of pigs or cows.

It’s a complex procedure, and the surgeon must evaluate and decide during the surgery whether the aortic valve can be saved or must be replaced. Surgeons at Samaritan Heart & Vascular Institute in Corvallis are able to offer patients the option and possibility of David procedure, as well as a similar aortic aneurysm repair, known as Bentall procedure, in which the valve is replaced.

Though the details of complex heart surgery can be hard for most to comprehend, Aerni knows two things – his surgery was a success and he feels back to normal.

"I’m really thankful and blessed for the whole team over there at the Samaritan Heart & Vascular Institute,” Aerni said

The benefits of being able to keep your own aortic valve following an aortic rupture are significant. Instead of having a man-made device inside you, you have your own. Afterward, you do not require special treatment or precautions such as blood thinners, which are necessary with manmade valves. You are free to do whatever you did before surgery.

Aerni was getting ready for a weekend of crabbing in Newport when he received a call from Cardiologist Matt Lindberg, MD, who found the aortic aneurysm on an echocardiogram image.

“Dr. Lindberg said ‘No, you’re not going crabbing, you are going to take it easy.’”

Following surgery, Aerni was back to work at his job as a lab technician at Wah Chang within 10 weeks, and after healing up completely, he is able to do all the activities he loves – including gardening, fishing and riding his quad.

“I feel great,” he said. “I can go out and do just about anything I want to.” 

Samaritan Heart & Vascular Institute provides a wide range of care, including cardiology,  electrophysiology, cardiovascular and cardiothoracic surgery, with outreach clinics in Albany, Corvallis, Lebanon, Lincoln City, Newport and Toledo, as well as serving patients from Eugene, Salem and neighboring areas.

The cardiovascular surgery team is comprised of board-certified cardiothoracic surgeons, physician assistants and specially trained nurses and technicians who perform hundreds of surgical cases each year. For more information, visit, or call 1-877-474-7484.