New heart valve surgery gives hope to young cardiac patients

King’s College Hospital carries out world first procedure using “game-changing” new device that will benefit young active patients and those wanting to get pregnant

Professor Wendler operating

King’s College Hospital carries out world first procedure using “game-changing” new device that will benefit young active patients and those wanting to get pregnant.

King’s College Hospital in London has carried out the first aortic valve replacement using a new device that will benefit people with aortic valve disease, particularly women wanting to get pregnant and young patients who want to live an active life without having to take life-long medication.

Until now, patients below the age of 65 with a damaged aortic valve would have it replaced with a mechanical heart valve. Mechanical valves, made from metal, can last for many years but require patients to take life-long Warfarin to thin the blood because of the tendency for clots to form on the valve, which can cause a stroke. Blood thinning medication can cause problems during pregnancy and damage an unborn baby.

Biological heart valves, made from animal tissue, do not require patients to take blood thinning treatment but due to their tendency to need replacing regularly they were previously considered unsuitable for use in younger patients. However, for women wanting to get pregnant they were the best option available. Because of the limited durability of these devices, patients would require multiple heart operations over their lifetime. The new device, however, is expected to last up to 30 years before it needs replacing.

Twenty-seven year old Nosheen Khan from Croydon was the first patient in the world to be fitted with the new device. At the age of two she was diagnosed with aortic valve disease – a narrowing and leaking of the aortic valve in the heart. The condition restricts blood flow through the heart valve which means the heart has to squeeze harder to pump blood into the aorta. Over time, the condition can worsen and lead the sufferer to experience symptoms of heart failure such as shortness of breath.

Nosheen’s operation was carried out using minimally invasive techniques and as a result she was home five days after surgery. Nosheen said, Nosheen said, “I’m very keen to start a family with my husband Dr Saqib Haroon, so when Professor Wendler told us about this new device, we agreed it would be the best option for us. We are hopeful that the new valve will also prevent the need for numerous heart operations in the future.”

Olaf Wendler, Professor of Cardiac Surgery at King’s College Hospital, who carried out the procedure said, “Although we have been replacing damaged aortic valves for many years, this new device is a game-changer for patients who do not want to take blood thinning medication, especially women hoping to start a family.

“We have avoided using mechanical valve prostheses in this group of patients due to the problems associated with blood thinning medication and pregnancy, and have relied on biological prostheses with limited durability. As a consequence, younger patients have required multiple open heart surgeries. This new prosthesis combines the best from both devices; it’s durable and patients do not require blood thinning medication. This means fewer operations, the possibility of a healthy pregnancy and a good quality of life.”

Currently around 35,000 patients undergo open heart surgery on the aortic valve per year. Of those, approximately 40% are below the age of 65. Aortic valve replacement with a durable device not requiring anticoagulation treatment (Warfarin), could significantly improve patients’ quality of life and future prognosis.

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Notes to editors

1. King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is one of the UK’s largest and busiest teaching hospitals, training over 900 dentists, 750 doctors and 300 nurses every year. The Trust is recognized internationally for its work in liver disease and transplantation, neurosciences, cardiac, haemato-oncology, stroke and major trauma. On 1 October 2013, King’s took over the running of the Princess Royal University Hospital in Bromley and Orpington Hospital, as well as some services at Beckenham Beacon and Queen Mary’s Hospital, Sidcup. The new enlarged organisation has over 10,500 staff and provides over 1 million patient contacts a year. 9,000 babies are delivered by our hospitals each year, and over 750 patients come to our Emergency Departments every day. For more information, please visit the website. You can also support the work of King’s College Hospital at

2. King’s Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre (AHSC) is a pioneering collaboration between King’s College London, and Guy’s and St Thomas’, King’s College Hospital and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts.

King’s Health Partners is one of only six Department of Health-designated AHSCs in England and brings together an unrivalled range and depth of clinical and research expertise, spanning both physical and mental health. Our combined strengths will drive improvements in care for patients, allowing them to benefit from breakthroughs in medical science and receive leading edge treatment at the earliest possible opportunity.

Our partnership brings together...

  • three of the UK’s leading NHS Foundation Trusts;
  • one of the top 30 universities in the world;
  • services provided over 225 locations, including seven hospitals and community and mental health centres;
  • 2.2 million patient contacts each year;
  • 31,000 staff;
  • 25,000 students;
  • a combined annual turnover of £2.8bn.

... to advance health and wellbeing by integrating world-class research, care and teaching.

3. At King’s College Hospital we fundraise for the best in treatment, research and health education, leading-edge equipment and improving well-being in our communities. By uniting doctors, nurses, researchers and academics with our supporters and volunteers we can provide the best patient care that goes above and beyond. Find out more and support us at

4. The new INSPIRIS RESILIA aortic valve has been developed by Edwards Lifesciences Ltd. It uses resilient bovine pericardial tissue which means patients do not have to take anticoagulation medicine.