Youth hockey coach has new heart valve thanks to new UW Health procedure

Published: Feb. 12, 2022 at 10:50 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - UW Health is offering congenital heart disease patients an alternative to open heart surgery. Doctors believe the new therapy will improve the quality of life and recovery time for the many patients living with the disease, including local youth hockey coach Cole Hefty.

Hefty was diagnosed with a weak heart after birth, and says he had his first open heart surgery before the age of three. Having many procedures is not uncommon for CHD patients, he explained. Luckily these procedures kept his heart healthy for several years, all through high school hockey and into his adult life.

“[CHD] hasn’t really stopped me from doing anything,” Hefty said. “If people didn’t know my story, they wouldn’t know I had it.”

But last year, doctors informed him his heart valve that was mended when he was young was weak again. But this time, there was an alternative to open heart surgery.

Doctor Luke Lamers performed the first Harmony Transcatheter Pulmonary Valve procedure at UW. His patient was coach Hefty. He explained the two hour long, minimally invasive procedure delivers the valve device using a catheter. Affording patients a quick recovery time and less risk than surgery.

“A lot of [patients] are well enough to go home the same day,” Lamers said. “That’s a game changer for people’s lives.”

Hefty was the first of those patients at UW. After the procedure he was home in less than 24 hours and back on the rink with his team by the end of the week.

“For me and a bunch of other people to come [the procedure] is going to be a huge benefit for getting us back on our feet now and any surgeries that have to be done in the future will make a big difference,” Hefty said.

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