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Posted by on Aug 14, 2013 |

Building a Better Heart

Building a Better Heart


Harry Gordon, 63, of Garrett Park, spends most days designing structures alongside his daughter, Caitlin. But when it came to the shape of his heart, he had to add a different type of architect to his team.

Gordon was diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse about 30 years ago, a disease in which the heart valve leaflets become abnormal and stretchy. As a result, the tissue is unable to close properly, causing the valve to leak.

“I would have to stop and rest with activities that I could do before very easily,” says Gordon, who enjoys running, hiking and canoeing in his spare time.

After consulting with his cardiologist, Dennis Donahue, MD, at Washington Adventist Hospital, it was determined that surgery would be the best course of action to address Gordon’s leaking mitral valve. If not treated in a timely manner, his condition could lead to heart failure.

Gordon was referred to Paul Massimiano, MD, heart surgeon and program director of cardiac surgery at Washington Adventist Hospital, who performed a minimally invasive mitral valve repair, a surgery that involved a 2-inch incision through the right chest.

Harry Gordon and his daughter Caitlin Gordon

“It was a progressive – go further, take fewer breaks, just keep going and always be there for him.”

“We chose the minimally invasive approach for Mr. Gordon to help him get back to his active lifestyle as quickly as possible,” Dr. Massimiano says. “The minimally invasive repair technique provides an excellent solution with fewer complications and a faster recovery.”

Says Gordon: “What impressed me about Dr.┬áMassimiano was how he took the time to explain in detail how he fixed my heart, through drawings. As an architect, this really helped me understand and gave me reassurance.”

Paul Massimiano, M.D.

Paul Massimiano, M.D.

Looking back, Gordon is grateful for the support he’s had both before and after surgery. “My experience with the entire team at Washington Adventist Hospital was very comforting and encouraging,” Gordon adds. “From the person at the welcoming desk to the admitting station, to my doctors and nurses, at every level I felt like there was a true care and concern for the patient.”

With a successful procedure, Gordon is on the road back to his favorite outdoor activities. “Dad plans to be hiking well into his 90s,” Caitlin says, “and I’m confident he’ll get there.”

Adventist HealthCare

Adventist HealthCare, based in Gaithersburg, Md., is a faith-based, not-for-profit organization of dedicated professionals who work together each day to provide excellent wellness, disease management and health-care services to the community.

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