Breakthrough innovation often requires creativity and persistence. Luckily, the team of pioneering researchers, scientists and doctors who developed MitraClip had a large supply of both. Their determination has helped more than 30,000 people with mitral regurgitation (a potentially fatal heart condition) in 40 countries live a better life1.
Today, as we celebrate "MitraClip Day" around the world, we're recognizing MitraClip – its incredible development journey and the people it helps every day.
It started with a bold idea
MitraClip's story starts in California in the late 1990s. The team at the medical device company Evalve Inc. (purchased by Abbott in 2009) wanted to achieve something new – to use a catheter-based approach to repair the mitral valve in a beating heart. The idea was unheard of. In fact, at the time, some cardiologists were skeptical of the idea.
Sometimes great ideas need a champion
Ferolyn Powell, who was the CEO of Evalve, led the development of MitraClip. She was convinced the device she was working on would revolutionize therapy for mitral regurgitation (MR), so she put together a multidisciplinary team of people who could help turn this vision into a reality.
The team included Ferolyn’s sister, Liz McDermott, who decided not to retire so she could help by leading the clinical and regulatory groups, and Dr. Fred St. Goar, a cardiologist who sketched the first drawings of this catheter-based device in his lab book.
One of their first meetings took place at a California diner. There, Dr. St. Goar showed the team his drawings. As you can imagine, the discussion largely focused on one key question — could this work?
"Crazy" ideas lead to innovation
Dr. St. Goar’s early sketches gave engineers a place to start.
“There were some crazy ideas and I think the engineering team came up with even crazier ones,” said Troy Thornton, then-Vice President of Research and Development at Evalve. “We tried lots of different things to find what the right path or the best path at the time would be.”
A key engineering moment occurred when the team transitioned from a suture-based approach traditionally used by surgeons who treat the mitral valve to what became the present-day clip.
Watch this video to learn more about mitral regurgitation and how MitraClip works.
A life-changing moment for the first mitraclip patient
In 2003, 55-year old Octalina Mendoza from Caracas, Venezuela was the very first patient to receive the MitraClip device to treat her MR.
Her cardiologist, Dr. Jose Condado diagnosed her mitral regurgitation, determining that her heart was pumping harder to accommodate the leak in her mitral valve. As he was planning her treatment, Dr. Condado decided Octalina would be a good candidate for the MitraClip device.
Octalina Mendoza from Caracas, Venezuela was the first-ever MitraClip patient.
Octalina was treated with the MitraClip device, which successfully reduced her mitral regurgitation without open heart surgery.
“We had shown in real time that you could resolve mitral regurgitation,” said Dr. St. Goar as he reflected on the very first procedure using MitraClip. “This was a game-changing, life-changing moment.”
The team following the first MitraClip procedure.
Today, more than 30,000 people worldwide have received our MitraClip device 1. This catheter-based, less-invasive treatment option is for treating patients with MR who can't have open-heart surgery due to the risk of death and complications.
Learn more about Octalina Mendoza, the first MitraClip patient.
1. Data as of May31, 2016. Source: Data on file at Abbott Vascular on file
Indication for Use: The MitraClip Clip Delivery System is indicated for the percutaneous reduction of significant symptomatic mitral regurgitation (MR ≥ 3+) due to primary abnormality of the mitral apparatus [degenerative MR] in patients who have been determined to be at prohibitive risk for mitral valve surgery by a heart team, which includes a cardiac surgeon experienced in mitral valve surgery and a cardiologist experienced in mitral valve disease, and in whom existing comorbidities would not preclude the expected benefit from reduction of the mitral regurgitation.
Caution: This product is intended for use by or under the direction of a physician. Prior to use, reference the Instructions for Use provided inside the product carton (when available) or at www.abbottvascular.com/ifu for more detailed information on Indications, Contraindications, Warnings, Precautions and Adverse Events.
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