At age 26, Kelly was diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse. At the time, she was told she may have to have heart surgery to repair or replace the valve at some point in her life. She didn’t really have any symptoms so she continued to visit a cardiologist annually.
In 2008, Kelly was working four jobs and going to school full time to prepare for graduate school. She began to struggle with chronic fevers, body aches and fatigue. After multiple visits to the doctor, they discovered that her mitral valve had bacteria growing on it – a condition called endocarditis. She was diagnosed in Wisconsin 17 days before graduate school started. The doctors were able to treat the infection with IV antibiotics and she moved to Arizona to pursue school as planned.
Over the course of the next three years she managed fairly well, but began to have more progressive symptoms like palpitations, shortness of breath and light-headed. She was fearful of surgery because her valve was damaged after endocarditis and may require valve replacement which can be a difficult decision for a young female who has not yet had children.
She met Michael Caskey, M.D. for an initial consultation in 2011 and decided to put surgery off (again because of fear). She met him again one year later and he showed her the exciting innovations he was working on. He asked her “when” rather than “if.” Kelly trusted Dr. Caskey and finally, eight years after diagnosis, scheduled surgery.
Dr. Caskey successfully repaired Kelly’s valve, eliminating the need for valve replacement. He performed a mini-thoracotomy and her scar is barely visible. Three months after surgery, she was out hiking, biking and canoeing with her boyfriend, Mark and dog, Roxie, fishing with her mom and dad and back to work full time as a Doctor of Physical Therapy in a busy hospital.
She is thankful to Dr. Caskey and the team at Scottsdale Healthcare Shea Medical Center for repairing her heart valve.
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