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Infirmary Health physician successfully completes rare, life-saving procedure; one of three in the world

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Mobile, Ala. – In the 60 years that cardiac surgeons have been performing heart valve replacements, only three patients have ever survived a totally dislodged surgical valve. Mobile Infirmary patient, Donald Dickens, is one of them.

In March 2021, Mr. Dickens’ mechanical aortic valve, which was placed 15 years prior, suddenly dislodged from the heart and became located in his distal aortic arch. Emergency services brought him to Mobile Infirmary where he arrived in severe cardiovascular collapse and on maximum support. The cardiovascular team, led by Dr. Kareem Bedeir, leapt into action. Armed with a solid plan, Dr. Bedeir reconstructed the destroyed heart, re-implanted a new valve, and then using safe techniques, temporarily arrested the circulation to retrieve the dislodged valve and then resumed circulation.

“This is a very unusual case,” said Dr. Bedeir. “It's not something you get trained for, but I'm very grateful for all the training that I have received, and it makes you ready to think out of the box and deal with what you're faced with. We have a great team. We came up with a plan, acted fast, and he was fortunate to do very well.”

Mr. Dickens, only 36 years old, shared, “If not for his team, Dr. Bedeir and his team at Mobile Infirmary, I wouldn't be here. It was a shock to me and a shock to my family. And then I'm just so grateful for him for bringing me through this and getting my health back in line where I can be with my family. I'm able to live life the way I did before.”

This case was published with the European Heart Journal, a leading peer-reviewed medical journal dealing with cardiovascular medicine, in December of 2021.1

Dr. Bedeir is a board-certified cardio-thoracic surgeon with Cardio-Thoracic and Vascular Surgical Associates (CTVSA), an affiliate of Infirmary Health. He completed his fellowship training in cardiothoracic surgery and surgical critical care at Brigham and Women’s Hospital – Harvard Medical School in Boston, Mass., where he received the John J. Collins, Jr. Cardiothoracic Surgeon Scholars Award. Dr. Bedeir earned his medical degree from the University of Alexandria in Egypt and completed surgical residencies at the University of Alexandria in Egypt as well as Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, Md. During his residency at Sinai Hospital, he was awarded the Program Director’s Award for excellence in medical knowledge, as well as the Chief of Surgery Award for excellence in research. To schedule an appointment, visit ctvsa.org or call 251-471-3544.

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Cardio-Thoracic and Vascular Surgical Associates (CTVSA) has served the Gulf Coast region for more than 40 years with expert, advanced and quality care in the areas of cardiac, thoracic and vascular health including diagnostic, surgical and rehabilitative care. CTVSA is an affiliate of Infirmary Health, the largest not-for-profit, non-governmental healthcare system in Alabama.

1 Kareem Bedeir, Robert P Robichaux, Jr, Thomas G Gleason, Surgical whole valve embolization 15 years after implantation, European Heart Journal, 2021;, ehab859, https://doi.org/10.1093/eurheartj/ehab859