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Gratitude Drives Generous Support for Cardiac Surgery Research

Gratitude Drives Generous Support for Cardiac Surgery Research

Charitable giving can be inspired by any number of motivating factors. In the case of Stanley Zupnik, it was appreciation for his son Kevin’s successful minimally invasive mitral valve repair surgery.

Kevin Zupnik had no family history or symptoms of a heart problem when he learned he had a defect in his mitral valve. At the time, Zupnik was 48 years old. “The diagnosis changed my world,” he says.

Zupnik sought opinions from various cardiologists, who all suggested traditional treatment involving opening his chest and cracking the chest bone. As a business owner and father of two active teenagers, Zupnik says the thought of such invasive surgery and a difficult recovery was concerning. He continued to take medications to control his heart rhythm while researching specialists.

Eventually, he found the mitral valve team at Johns Hopkins. After extensive testing and blood work, Zupnik was cleared for a robotically assisted mitral valve repair. In 2016, he had the surgery and an excellent recovery.

“I know the experience is different for everyone, but I was able to get back to work in a limited capacity in just over one week from the date of my surgery,” he says. 

Robotic mitral valve repair can be a good option for many patients who are reasonably fit and have no other major health issues. By using a robot, surgeons access the valve through much smaller incisions, without cutting the breastbone. The procedure results in less pain, shorter hospital stays and quicker recoveries. The team at Johns Hopkins has an isolated mitral valve repair rate of over 97 percent, with a 0 percent stroke or mortality rate.

Grateful for his son’s successful surgical outcome, Stanley Zupnik established the Division of Cardiac Surgery’s Stanley R. Zupnik Research Fund. This fund supports a study of the prevention of postoperative atrial fibrillation, a common complication following cardiac surgery. Through Zupnik’s support, Johns Hopkins investigators are actively seeking new and better treatments for heart patients.

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