EXPIRED: 10/10/09 – Gilbert Novotny, 95, was a healthy man in his mid 50’s when an allergic reaction to an antibiotic damaged his heart. It was 1973 and heart surgery was still in it’s infancy, but to save his life he needed drastic measures.
His surgeon was Dr. Donald B. Effler, already famous for having helped perform the first cardiac transplant in the Midwest, in 1968.
It was then that Novotny became the second person ever to receive a stainless steel artificial aortic heart valve.
Novotny was told that the first patient to get the stainless steel aortic heart valve gave a million-dollar contribution to the clinic. Unfortunately, that patient died soon after the operation.
Novotny took a chance and decided not to donate anything. Doctors told him he’d be lucky to live five to seven years.
Thirty-six years later, Novotny died in his sleep. Doctors had said that his artificial valve would simply stop working one day, and his family said that’s apparently what happened.
Otherwise, he was still as healthy as he was in his mid 50’s, his family said.