Update 9/18/2009 - My brother's surgery went well. He's off the heart/lung machine and his heart is beating on its own, and he's breathing on his own now too. I finally got to see him this morning, and all things considered, he's looking great! He's a little drugged up right now, but he seemed to recognize me, and even joked around a little bit. The doctors were a little concerned about some bleeding, but that seems to have lessened enough that it doesn't look like he needs to go back into surgery. With all that we've heard thus far, everything is apparently looking good.
Last month, I heard some frustrating news: my youngest brother is having to go into have open heart surgery, to replace a couple of leaky valves. This is the second such operation he's had, and the third time he's had his chest opened. It just doesn't seem fair! At least he seems to be taking it well, and is determined to get through this. His surgery is in a couple of weeks, and I'll be flying there to visit him while he recovers.
This is essentially what he's having done:
The aorta will be cut away, and replaced with one of these:
Note that the aorta isn't simply a tube, but rather a tube with a valve on one end, and a couple of coronary artery attachments. I can't imagine how they swap this tube in, and get everything hooked up, but I guess this type of surgery has been around for a long time.
While they are in there, they'll also be replacing his mitral valve with one of these:
He actually already has one of these mitral valves from 6-7 years ago, but they are going to replace it, because it is leaking. Dang. Hopefully this is the last one of those he has to replace! In case you don't know where the mitral valve is in the heart, here it is in relation to everything else:
Anyway, I'm hoping he gets through this, and has a speedy recovery, so he can get back to "normal" life.