Tucson resident receives groundbreaking heart valve surgery

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- An 18-year-old Tucson resident has become the youngest person in Arizona to have a groundbreaking new procedure at UMC.

It will give the recent high school graduate a new pulmonary valve without having to go through open heart surgery.

Dillon Schultz was born with Tetralogy of Fallot.

"It was a congenital heart defect and that it was repairable and that he would have to have surgery when he was about one years old.  It wouldn't shorten his life span, but he would have some limitations," explains Dillon's mother Dannette Schultz.

Knowing that her son would have to have open heart surgery at early age was pretty tough on Dillon's mom.

"It was very emotional for me to have to deal with medical issues and having seen my husband suffer through cancer and die and see my son ill," said Dannette Schultz.

He would also have to have a second open heart surgery at the age of ten. Something that the 18-year-old will never forget because of the scars and the pain.

"It was painful.  I remember them putting me to sleep and just waking up with a lot of pain in my chest," said Dillon.

But now, a procedure known as the Melody Transcatheter Pulmonary valve placement will change things for Schultz.

"It's a fairly new procedure its only been approved in the united states since 2010 and it involves putting a valve inside of his heart," said Pediatric Cardiologist, Ricardo Samson M.D.

Dr.Ricardo Samson performed the procedure on the recent canyon del Oro graduate Friday morning.

The procedure involves running a catheter through his leg and then positioning it in the heart.

"And will have the valve right on the end of the catheter and then we will inflate a balloon in order to expand the valve in the right position," said Dr. Samson.

The end result of the procedure will give Dillon more blood flow between the heart and the lungs. And compared to open heart surgery, the recovery time is much less.

Dillon Schultz will be recovering at Diamond Children's Medical Center for about a day, and according to his doctors should be fully recovered within a week.