Tina, a MoBap cardiac surgery patient, has always been active and enjoys walking, biking and being outdoors.

Repairing a Broken Heart: A New Diagnosis Helps Heart Pump at Peak Efficiency

Tina Lybarger Ledyard, a nurse at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and the hospital's stroke network consultant, has lived with a heart condition her entire life.

In her professional life, heart patient Tina is a nurse at Barnes Jewish Hospital and the hospital’s stroke network coordinator (right). Here she consults with colleague Rachel Sargent, RN, BSN, stroke program manager at MoBap, as they demonstrate telemedicine.

Born with pulmonary valvar stenosis that prevented normal circulation of blood between her heart and lungs, Tina had open heart surgery when she was only three years old to repair the defective valve. During the surgery, doctors widened the valve's opening to improve blood flow. "At the time, it was a new procedure," Tina said. "There was significant risk, but the doctors told my parents that without the surgery I might not live to be a teenager."

Following the success of her surgery at a young age, Tina has enjoyed life without restrictions, although she's had periodic heart MRIs to make sure that everything continues to be okay. "I haven't had any real problems with my heart," she said. "I have always been active and enjoy walking, biking and being outdoors."

A New Diagnosis

In August 2018, Tina noticed that she was feeling more fatigued than normal. "Even my husband, Myron, commented that that my activity had slowed and was worried because I was laying down to rest on the weekends instead of taking part in some of my favorite pastimes."

Tina instinctively knew that something was wrong. Following the conversation with her husband, she made an appointment with her cardiologist, Missouri Baptist Medical Center's Dr. Linda Stronach, who scheduled an MRI of Tina's heart to identify any problems.

The MRI results showed that Tina had severe pulmonary regurgitation. The pulmonary valve that was repaired when she was a toddler was leaking and causing some blood to flow back into her heart chamber instead of being pumped to her lungs for oxygenation.

"The results of my previous MRI showed mild pulmonary regurgitation," Tina remembered. "I was surprised that the condition had progressed to severe."

Dr. Stronach referred Tina to MoBap cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. Joshua Baker. "When I met with Dr. Baker, he put me at ease, listened to my concerns and answered my questions honestly," Tina said. "As a patient, having that kind of rapport is important to me."

Tina Lybarger Ledyard, a heart patient, consults with MoBap’s cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. Joshua Baker. Tina has renewed energy thanks to a recent heart surgery she underwent.

Dr. Baker introduced Tina's case to other doctors who are a part of Missouri Baptist's heart team. "All cardiac patients are evaluated through a multidisciplinary approach," Dr. Baker described. "This collaboration between specialists is a real benefit to our patients."

Choosing the Best Procedure

Dr. Baker presented Tina with two options for correcting her pulmonary regurgitation. "He told me about a minimally invasive procedure that would have to be repeated in the future or they could perform open heart surgery, which would give them a chance to really fix the problem." After considering both options and thinking about her lifestyle, Tina chose the latter.

On the day of her surgery in late August, Myron, their children, and Tina's parents accompanied her to the hospital. "We knew what to expect," Tina said. "We were prepared for the surgery to last four to five hours, and then I'd be in the cardiac intensive care unit for a few days before being moved to a regular hospital room for the remainder of my stay."

The surgery went smoothly, and Dr. Baker replaced Tina's leaky valve with a porcine valve (pig valve), removed scar tissue and closed a ventricular septal defect, or hole in the wall separating the heart's lower chambers, that wasn't fully evident during preoperative imaging.

"He even fixed the scar on my chest that was left from my first surgery in 1959," Tina said. "That original scar had widened over time and was ugly. The scar I have now is thin and barely noticeable."

A Quicker than Usual Recovery

Because of the complexity of the surgery, Tina was expecting a longer recovery but was surprised at how quickly she bounced back. "I was transferred out of the cardiac intensive care unit ahead of schedule, didn't need cardiac rehab and was discharged two days sooner than planned," Tina recalled. "I took advantage of MoBap's home healthcare for two weeks after I was discharged."

"It's important to keep in mind that each patient's surgery and recovery are unique," Dr. Baker said. "I attribute Tina's quick recovery to her active, healthy lifestyle. Her heart is now working at peak efficiency, which is evident in how good she feels."

"It's been an incredible journey," she said. "The severe pulmonary regurgitation developed over a longer period as did my symptoms of fatigue. I didn't realize how poorly I felt until after recovery when I noticed how much energy I have and how much better I am sleeping and breathing."

Looking back on her experience, Tina stresses the importance of getting to know your doctors and asking questions. "I'm thankful for Dr. Baker and the entire heart team at MoBap and the great care I received," Tina said as she looks forward to the future. "Establishing good communication with your doctors, building a relationship with them and asking questions helps prepare one for whatever lies ahead."

Dr. Stronach and Dr. Baker released Tina to return to work three weeks after her surgery. Since then, she is back in her office full time doing what she loves – helping patients.

Related Heart Content

Find a Doctor or Make an Appointment

Our new search tool will help you choose a doctor or health care provider that is best for you or your family.

Search Now

Palliative Care: Helping Patients Live Their Best Lives

Lynn’s husband Steve was diabetic and diagnosed with end stage renal disease 11 years ago. Without warning, Steve’s condition turned critical three years ago. Desperate for guidance and strength, Lynn was connected to April and the Palliative Care team at Missouri Baptist Medical Center.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Losing More Than Sleep

Everybody suffers occasionally from not getting enough sleep. But a lack of sleep can do more than just make you feel tired the next day. Chronic sleep problems can be a contributing factor to more serious health problems.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Arrhythmia Center

At the Arrhythmia Center at Missouri Baptist Medical Center, we want to help you understand everything there is to know about arrhythmia, especially finding the right treatment just for you. Our goal is to keep you and your heart healthy.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Speaking from the Heart

When Kenneth Amaral visits with cardiology patients at Missouri Baptist Medical Center as part of the Mended Hearts volunteer program, he speaks from first-hand experience.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

A Perfect Match

In the fall of 2017, Dwight Blankenship, senior pastor at Parkway Baptist Church in west St. Louis County, learned his kidneys were failing. His Missouri Baptist Medical Center nephrologist, Jay Seltzer, MD, advised a kidney transplant. Fortunately, a suitable donor was close at hand.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right
Tina, a MoBap cardiac surgery patient, has always been active and enjoys walking, biking and being outdoors.

Repairing a Broken Heart: A New Diagnosis Helps Heart Pump at Peak Efficiency

Although she had lived with a heart condition her entire life, Tina Lybarger Ledyard knew a few months ago that something just wasn’t right. As a nurse and a stroke network consultant, Tina noticed she was feeling more fatigued than usual. Read more here about her diagnosis and how she has renewed energy after heart surgery.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Synchronizing Heart Care Offers Patient a New Lease on Life

Nathaniel (Nate) Rentz, 63, is alive today thanks to the expertise and coordinated care of medical teams at Progress West Hospital and the advanced cardiac care team at Missouri Baptist Medical Center.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Cardiac Surgeons Discuss Valve Disease and New Treatment Methods

Cardiac surgeons at MoBap talk about valve disease and new treatment methods, including minimally invasive surgery.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement

The transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedure allows a team of cardiologists and cardiac surgeons to insert a new valve inside a diseased valve without open heart surgery. The new valve is put in place through a catheter that is inserted through the groin or between the ribs. 

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right
Dr. Higano continues to follow up care with Ira.

An Alliance to Save Lives by Saving Time

On Dec. 5, 2017, 57-year-old Ira Schalk began to feel nauseous on his job at a lead mining operation near Viburnum, Mo. For days he had felt tired, but thought it might be the flu. It wasn’t.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right
Melissa and Chris post on the sofa with family photos all around.

Early Intervention Makes the Difference

Melissa Ham’s voice is still a little shaky when she recalls being told that her husband, Chris, had about a 1-in-3 chance of surviving the heart attack that occurred at their home on July 13, 2016.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right
Deborah Quesenberry volleys during paddleball.

An Unexpected Diagnosis

When Deborah Quesenberry attended the Missouri Baptist Heart Fair in February 2017, she wasn’t expecting to have a diagnosis of a serious health problem.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Understanding Arrhythmia

We want to help you understand everything there is to know about arrhythmia, why they occur, how they are diagnosed and treated, and what options may be right for you.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Heart LifeLine Alliance

As a leader in heart care, Missouri Baptist Medical Center’s cardiac specialists partner with rural hospitals and medical helicopter and ambulance services to offer the region’s leading heart attack network, saving heart muscle and lives.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Her Heart Health

A woman's heart is different. Many women may not experience chest pain. Their warning signs are non-specific and often easily overlooked. 

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Living (Well) With Congestive Heart Failure

Follow these tips to live a healthier life with congestive heart failure.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Early Heart Attack Care

Did you know that heart attacks have beginnings and these beginning signs occur in more than half of all heart attack patients? Learn the important early signs and symptoms.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Getting Clara to the Beach

Clara Freeman anxiously anticipated attending her oldest granddaughter's beach wedding.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

An Unexpected Journey of the Heart

When it came time for LaTisha (Tish) Smith of Belleville, Ill., to tell her family that she was having surgery, the hardest conversation was with her 9-year-old son, Lee.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Treating Coronary Artery Chronic Total Occlusion

The treatment options at the Missouri Baptist Heart Center continue to advance, and our patients have access to the latest technologies and treatment options. 

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right
Dr. Mauney and team work to improve heart rhythm

Reducing Risk, Improving Rhythm: Treating Atrial Fibrillation

At Missouri Baptist Medical Center cardiac surgeons have treated atrial fibrillation surgically since 2001.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Training for Heart Health

The Arrhythmia Center at Missouri Baptist is at the forefront of technologies that enhance patient lives.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Saving Heart Muscle, Saving Lives

In 2008, cardiologists at Missouri Baptist Medical Center developed the Heart LifeLine Alliance in partnership with rural hospitals, medical helicopter and ambulance services.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right

Working Together to Treat Heart Failure

At the Missouri Baptist Medical Center Heart Failure Center, we use a team approach to develop an individualized plan of care for you to manage your disease.

Learn More keyboard_arrow_right