Heart surgery without a single cut to the chest - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Heart surgery without a single cut to the chest

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Emery Miller Emery Miller
PHOENIX -

It's been a year since a 14-year-old Arizona boy underwent a landmark heart procedure. Emery Miller was born with a hole in his heart -- but surgeons were able to help him without having to do open heart surgery.

You would never know by looking at him that a little over a year ago Emery Miller's health was declining rapidly. But then he became the first Arizona teen to have the "melody valve procedure," and he says now he's doing what he always wanted -- being a normal kid.

Emery's heart is in baseball, but it's his heart defects that are getting in the way.

"They call it the double-triple, because I would hit triples but the coach would hold me at second because he knew if I would run to third I would be done, and not able to play the rest of game because I would be so tired," says Emery.

He was born with a hole in his heart and a defective aortic valve.

"He was on a feeding tube until he was five years old. It was one challenge after the other," says mom Lori Miller.

After several open heart surgeries since he was just six months old, doctors told him about a breakthrough.

He had it last year. No scar, no stitches, no opening his heart.

"Instead of opening his chest what we are able to do is pass a catheter in his leg all the way up through the vein to his heart and we can put a valve inside the one he has currently," says Joseph Graziano, Pediatric Cardiologist.

Emery has had four open surgeries all requiring several months of recovery, but this last procedure he was back to his normal self within weeks.

"I see him living a full life, where 14 years ago that wasn't the vision that I saw," says mom Lori.

Emery says for the first time in baseball, he's stealing third -- and he's looking forward to high school.

"One thing I've been able to do is not let negative experiences ruin my life and if you can do that you can overcome anything."

Since Emery's successful procedure, doctors from the pediatric group APCC have done 20 melody valve procedures.


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