Celebrating with the man who repaired his own heart

in News

I attended a rather special event in London on Saturday. One of my clients, Tal Golesworthy, was celebrating the tenth anniversary of being the first person to have an ExoVasc® fitted.

What’s an ExoVasc®? I hear you ask. It’s a device that is placed around the ascending aorta where it provides support and is designed to prevent enlargement and rupture. Tal was the first person to have an ExoVasc® fitted because he was the person who invented it. 

Tal has Marfan syndrome, an inherited condition that affects the body’s connective tissue. This includes the heart and blood vessels, which can enlarge or rupture (or dissect), with life-threatening consequences.

The current standard surgical means of preventing aortic dissection is to replace the ascending aorta and possibly the aortic valve with an artificial graft. To prevent blood clots forming on the replaced valve, the patient has to take anticoagulant drugs for the rest of his or her life.

When Tal discovered he needed to have surgery to prevent his aorta dissecting, he decided that there must be a better alternative – and set about designing it.

The result is the ExoVasc®, a custom-made external support which exactly matches the patient’s aorta. This is placed around the ascending aorta, which remains intact. Since the vessel and the valve remain intact, the surgery is more straightforward and there is no need for the patient to take anticoagulant drugs.

Since Tal had his device fitted in 2004, a further 41 people have undergone the same surgery.

Saturday’s party was to celebrate Tal’s anniversary. Several people who are part of the project, along with many of the patients, met at the Royal Brompton Hospital, where his device was fitted, to raise a glass and toast his achievements.

I am in awe of Tal’s work, his ingenuity and his bravery. It is a pleasure and a privilege to work with him and I was delighted to be asked to be part of his day on Saturday.

To find out more about Tal and the Personalised External Aortic Root Support project, visit www.exstent.com or watch Tal’s TEDx talk (which has been watched by over a million people to date).

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