Scars from the neck to my knee

The first operations I had were a tonsillectomy and repair of a torn meniscus in my right knee. Of course, only the latter left a visible scar.

Then I had aortic valve replacements at age 26 and 36, leaving a big scar down the front of my chest.

By 2008, at age 56, my aortic valve was worn out again. This time was more complicated though. Upon opening me, the surgeon found that all 4 valves were leaking, the aortic valve totally shot and the mitral valve badly in need of repair. The others were not of much concern, and should last for the rest of my life.

So, he repaired the mitral valve by removing it and wrapping a protective coat around it. Don't know the details...

The aorta was screwed up from the 2nd surgery, for which I was on the table for 9 hours and barely survived. So, rather than replace just the aortic valve, he replaced the entire aorta with a cadaver. Root, stem, valve, everything.

Finally, because the 2nd surgery had left one coronary artery in a stitch line, he also did a single bypass.

Now, my scars start near my neck, go most of the way to my stomach. Then, down my right leg, there are 3 separate scars where the vein was removed for the bypass. It's preferable to one incision, for reasons that I won't go into. The last one of those scars stops very close to the scar on my upper knee.

I'm lucky as I can be though. The scars are mostly covered by black body hair. Much more importantly, my surgeon was one of the best in the world, Dr. Gosta Petterson of The Cleveland Clinic.

What I have learned since then is that I needed a surgeon with his level of skills. Since coming back home, cardiologists have assured me that the procedures done on me go almost beyond belief.

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