Ipswich woman Sunete Hulsebos recently underwent minimally invasive aortic valve replacement surgery under the capable hands of Dr Chris Cole (centre) and Dr Wing Lo.
Ipswich woman Sunete Hulsebos recently underwent minimally invasive aortic valve replacement surgery under the capable hands of Dr Chris Cole (centre) and Dr Wing Lo. Contributed

New heart surgery offers patients a speedy recovery

AN Ipswich woman has become one of the first to undergo a new type of heart valve replacement surgery that promises to dramatically reduce recovery times.

Although she was born with a faulty heart valve, Collingwood Park woman Sunete Hulsebos, 53, only recently discovered that she would require surgery.

Not so long ago, the type of procedure Mrs Hulsebos required would have involved the breaking of the breast bone in an open-heart surgery that would have taken several months to recover from.

Thanks to medical advancements at the Princess Alexandra Hospital, however, doctors are now able to perform the procedure using only a relatively small hole in the chest and groin.

The procedure, which doctors at the PA tested for the first time on Mrs Hulsebos recently, will result in a recovery time of only three to four weeks.

Cardiac surgeons Dr Chris Cole and Dr Wing Lo said that the surgery, carried out at the hospital on October 23, was a step forward for cardiac surgery's 17 year history at PA Hospital.

"Other hospitals in the USA do this as the standard approach, so we want to introduce this non-invasive method into PAH so that we can make the surgery less traumatic for our patients," Dr Cole said.

"The benefits of minimally invasive cardiac surgery are less pain, faster recovery, and faster return to work which is valuable for our patients, particularly if they are young."

To perform the surgery, a much smaller hole was made between Mrs Hulsebos' ribs in the front of the chest. A cut was made in the groin for the heart lung machine to be connected to the blood vessels outside the chest.

It's good news for the patient, who faced an uncertain future after discovering heart problems in her late 40s.

"Everything to do with cardiac surgery is scary because you are worried you could die," she said.

"The length of the recovery is so long and the whole idea of open heart surgery is very scary."

The non-invasive operation means Mrs Hulsebos can return to work much earlier.

She takes great pride in her early childcare work, where she helps young minds grow.

"A long recovery would take me away from them and that would be the worst thing," she said.



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