Dairy farmer back on the job after receiving heart valve transplant from cow

Dairy farmer back on the job after receiving heart valve transplant from cow

Dairy farmer back on the job after receiving heart valve transplant from cow

A dairy farmer and Washington County commissioner is back on the job after having a major surgery. Fran Miron underwent triple bypass surgery and aortic valve replacement in July.

He’s been forced to slow down his work at his Hugo farm, Miron Farm.

“We’ve had livestock on this farm for five generations now,” he said. “We’ve cared for animals and they’ve provided us a living.”

Typically, he works from 4:30 a.m. until 10 p.m. This spring, however, he noticed a change in his energy levels.

“I would fall asleep after a couple of hours of work and was just exhausted all the time,” Miron said. “I didn’t have a lot of energy. I was short of breath.”

Two years ago, chest pains led to a diagnosis of a blockage in his heart and a valve beginning to fail. A stent was placed to address the blockage.

When he returned to the doctor this July, he learned the valve had worsened significantly and there were three new blockages.

“[My cardiologist] said that was the one surprise to him because they had put me on a statin medication to keep my cholesterol low, and that was working extremely well,” said Miron. “He was very surprised to see those additional blockages.”

He scheduled the triple bypass and valve replacement surgery and scaled back his work on the farm. Towards the end of July, Miron underwent the surgery at M Health Fairview St. John’s Hospital.

Miron could choose between a porcine, mechanical or bovine valve. The dairy farmer chose a bovine valve, which is from a cow.

“For me having a bovine valve … was pretty special,” he said.

When he woke up from the surgery, he said he felt relieved.

“I was alive and breathing,” he said. “And anxious to get through the recovery process.”

Miron started working with St. John’s cardiac rehab team.

“In here, he’s hooked up to a heart monitor so we can watch for any heart arrhythmias,” said Katie Starken, an exercise physiology specialist with M Health Fairview. “We try to work for about 40 minutes of aerobic exercise along with strength training.”

She told us she sees patients with a variety of risk factors for heart disease including smoking, diabetes, age and gender. In Miron’s case, she said it was high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

“Exercise is great for helping with any kind of risk factors for heart disease. It can help lower the blood pressure, it can help bring down your cholesterol,” said Starken. “It’s good stress management.”

Fran still has some lifting restrictions but he’s back to doing the work he loves.

“I think each of us has an obligation to support one another and support one another’s good health,” Miron said. “The message really is we need to take care of ourselves, and this is an example where people don’t need to be fearful, they need to hear the good stories and weigh in on their own health care based on some of that.”

Heart disease can have a variety of symptoms, including chest pain or tightness, pain in the neck or jaw, and feeling lightheaded, dizzy, nauseous, or short of breath. Starken said people experiencing those symptoms should see a doctor.

“Denial is the biggest risk factor for heart disease,” Starken said.