Birdie Dally – UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute Patient Story

The Challenge

As an active member of her church and grandmother of four, Birdie Dally is used to keeping busy. One day, Birdie noticed that she was having problems breathing while singing at church. When the problems persisted, she decided to see her doctor. Birdie’s primary care physician noticed a problem with her heart during routine testing and suggested she see a specialist.

In the fall of 2012, she was referred to Robin Girdhar, MD, at the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute at the recommendation of her daughter, who had been treated by Dr. Girdhar for a minor heart condition.

After a heart catheterization and stress test, she was diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse. “When I was first diagnosed, I had no idea what it meant, but I knew that something needed to be done and I better not put it off,” she says.

The Path to UPMC

After a follow up with Dr. Girdhar in June 2013, Birdie was referred to Vinay Badhwar, MD, at the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute. Her fatigue and shortness of breath were indications that her valve was leaking and there was cause for concern.

When the mitral valve prolapses and leaks, blood flows backwards into the heart and weakens it. Over time, this can lead to heart failure. Dr. Badhwar discussed minimally invasive robotic-assisted surgery with Birdie to repair her damaged valve.

The Solution

In August 2013, Birdie underwent minimally invasive robotic-assisted surgery for valve repair. Her sister previously had open heart surgery. That experience prepared her for her own surgery. “I didn’t go through a lot of anxiety or concern. Sometimes you get knocked down, but you get back up. The doctors were so caring and compassionate; I knew I was receiving top-notch care.”

Birdie returned home within a week of her surgery and was back to most normal activities within six weeks. She encourages others who might have mitral valve prolapse to not ignore their symptoms and follow up with their doctor before their condition worsens.

“Since my surgery, my life is pretty much back to normal. I’m able to sing better at church, take care of my house, and play basketball with my grandchildren.”

Please note: Birdie’s treatment and results may not be representative of all similar cases.

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