After Mitral Valve Repair Three Years Ago, Where is She Now?

February 11, 2021

In 2018, we shared the story of Emer Featherstone, who was rushed to the emergency department at Mountainside Medical Center when extreme fatigue turned out to be a serious cardiac condition. Her doctors coordinated care with experts at Hackensack University Medical Center, where she underwent minimally invasive heart surgery to repair her mitral valve.

Now three years after her surgery and at age 85, Emer is living a full and busy life thanks to the exceptional care she received.

We recently checked in with Emer and are pleased to share some of her personal photos and an update on how she’s doing.

Q. How have you been feeling since your mitral valve repair at Hackensack University Medical Center in 2017?

A. I’m feeling pretty good. I’m still working part time as an accountant and carrying on with my life. If it wasn’t for COVID-19, I’d be doing more traveling as well.

Q. What have you changed in your life to stay heart healthy?

A. My biggest change after surgery was participating in cardiac rehabilitation. I was going to Mountainside Medical Center three times a week to participate in their program for more than two years. The benefits were great. I felt much more energized and physically better. I’ve taken some time off from that during the pandemic, but stayed active as an avid gardener. I also watch my diet, don’t over eat, and don’t smoke.

Q. Have you done anything particularly special since having your procedure?

A. About a year after my valve repair, I took on the chairperson position at the Montclair Foundation. I’ve been involved with the foundation for about 18 years and have served as chair for the past 2 ½ years. Thanks to my successful surgery, I had the time and energy to take on the position.

Q. How have you been keeping healthy during the pandemic?

A. I do a lot of gardening on my one-acre piece of land. That kept me busy in the spring, summer and fall. The digging and planting kept me moving, and I look forward to getting back to it next month. I also kept my mind busy with my accounting work, and as chair of the Montclair Foundation. The foundation maintains a six-acre garden that is open to the public, and also gives grants twice a year. It’s a volunteer role, but certainly keeps me busy with Zoom meetings every week!

Q. What would you want people to learn from your experience?

A. Just before my diagnosis, I was feeling intense fatigue and less appetite. I just wanted to stay on the couch and read. I experienced that for about two weeks before having to go to the emergency department. Looking back, fatigue like that isn’t normal. People should know that they can’t afford to wait. Get care now if you’re not feeling well because it could be a heart problem. Also, I am so grateful to the various doctors and nurses at Mountainside Medical Center and Hackensack University Medical Center. They did a fabulous job and I would go back in a nanosecond!

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