News 17 Oct 2023 Back to All News

International patient chooses Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi for complex, lifesaving procedure

• The hospital’s multidisciplinary team of experts performs complex aortic valve replacement surgery to treat a rare genetic heart condition • Thirty-one-year-old international patient enjoys swift recovery within a day of complex surgery • Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi has been recognized as a Centre of Excellence for Adult Cardiac Surgery by the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi, reinforcing its commitment to world-class standard of care

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, part of the M42 network, performed complex aortic valve replacement surgery on a 31-year-old patient suffering from a type of genetic aortic valve disease, bicuspid aortic valve disease, and congestive heart failure. An intricate heart valve replacement procedure was the only viable option for Muhammad Aakif Padela from Pakistan if his full heart function was to be restored and he was to lead a normal life. Bicuspid aortic valve disease occurs when there is a flaw in the valve responsible for regulating blood flow from the heart into the aorta.

With no prior symptoms, in December 2022, Aakif started experiencing shortness of breath and severe swelling in his legs back home in Karachi. Doctors diagnosed him with aortic valve disease which led him to Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute as a recommended option for care, given its advanced expertise, innovative technology and past successes in treating complex heart diseases.

With the support of his family and the guidance of Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s International Patient Services team, he embarked on a journey to Abu Dhabi.

By the time Aakif and his family arrived in the UAE, his heart function had severely deteriorated, functioning at a critically low ejection fraction of 15%, significantly lower than the normal range of 50-70%. In addition, Aakif’s heart had enlarged by a staggering 50% from a leaking aortic valve, which further compromised his health. His family had become progressively more anxious and worried about his life-threatening condition.

Dr. Umer Darr, Staff Physician in the Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute of Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi says, “Aakif’s heart valve was not closing properly, causing his heart to enlarge to 8.2 cm, way past the normal average of 5.5 cm, causing it to function poorly. A valve replacement was the only option to save Aakif’s life. Despite the high risks associated with his condition, we believed that the benefits of the surgery outweighed the potential challenges. We were committed to helping him regain a better quality of life.”

The surgical intervention involved an aortic valve replacement using a biological (bovine) prosthesis and took all the elements of the complexities of Aakif’s case into consideration such as his young age and reduced heart function. Aakif’s case was managed by a team of multidisciplinary experts from different subspecialties including electrophysiology, transplant and ICU. The key focus of these teams was to maintain heart function before and during surgery and aid recovery after the operation.

Reflecting on his journey, Aakif expresses gratitude for the care he received, stating, “The team at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi not only gave me hope but also provided exceptional care throughout my treatment. I am truly thankful for the second chance at life they've given me.” Aakif was also appreciative of his experience with the International Patients Services department which offered him exceptional personalized care. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is dedicated to serving patients from the UAE and the wider region, reflecting in its commitment to making healthcare more accessible and positioning the emirate as a hub for life sciences.

Aakif's case demonstrates the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to care, involving advanced innovative technology and expert physicians in addressing complex medical conditions such as heart disease. The Department of Health – Abu Dhabi designated Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi as a Centre of Excellence for Adult Cardiac Surgery recently, recognizing the hospital’s capabilities in successfully conducting a range of integrated cardiac surgery and structural heart disease interventions.

To learn more about Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute visit, https://www.clevelandclinicabudhabi.ae/en/institutes-and-specialties/heart-vascular-and-thoracic-institute

To book an appointment at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, call 800 8 CCAD (2223) visit www.clevelandclinicabudhabi.ae or download the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi Patient Portal App.

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