Kansas man becomes 1st in the world to undergo new heart treatment

There's no I in team, a phrase the group of Wichita doctors pictured above take to heart.

"The team concept is really a new concept to Wichita and I think that was the game changer in what we've done,” said Doctor Bassem Chehab of Cardiovascular Consultants of Kansas.

Dr. Bassem Chehab and dr. Brett Grizzell helped perform heart surgery on 82-year-old George Esslinger last month.

But not just any surgery. This procedure is being done for the very first time.

Esslinger is one of just 30 patients in the world to undergo the replacement of a major heart valve, the mitral valve, without undergoing open heart surgery.

"To be able to treat this kind of patient with this condition with less invasive ...,” said Dr. Chehab.

If it wasn't for the procedure, Esslinger's daughter Lora Meirowsky says her father might not have made it to the end of the month.

"We lost my mom,” she recalled. “I don't wanna cry, but we are a really close family, and I really thought that we were gonna go through that again."

Meirowsky says her father was down and out and running out of hope but says since the surgery, he's a new person.

"He's gone from sitting in a recliner not doing anything but sleep,” she explained. “Yesterday, I had him out in the community, we ate lunch, joking around… We haven't done that in a long time."

Wichita Surgical Specialists Dr. Grizzell says being a part of the study is humbling and seeing patients like Esslinger improve makes all the time and effort worth it.

"I make a point to ask them all, you know, when they're so sick, I always ask them are you glad you had this done. And it's amazing what simply one day of good living, how much that makes their life,” said Dr. Grizzell.

The thirty patients who are part of the study will be monitored carefully before doctors decide of the procedure will be part of a clinical trial.