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Patients with a debilitating heart condition could be spared major surgery by a bionic valve implant.

The tiny device, which can be fitted in under an hour using local anaesthetic, is designed to treat aortic regurgitation, a condition that starves the body of oxygenated blood and leaves patients fatigued and breathless.

The problem occurs when the valve that sits at the exit to the heart, the aortic valve, become damaged and fails to close completely. This allows blood to leak backward into the heart and affects its ability to pump efficiently.

It's most commonly seen in older patients, and those with high blood pressure. The damage may also be caused by infections.

Patients with a debilitating heart condition could be spared major surgery by a bionic valve implant. The new JenaValve Trilogy device, which has a metal frame and a valve from a pig, can be fitted during a minimally invasive procedure that takes less than an hour. (File image)

Up to five per cent of the population suffer from aortic regurgitation, with roughly one in 20 hit by severe symptoms. In these cases, the only option is open heart surgery, which involves opening up the patient's chest, putting their heart on a bypass machine and replacing the valve.

However, many sufferers are left too frail to withstand this major surgery. In addition, until now there hasn't been a valve implant designed specifically for aortic regurgitation – surgeons have been using implants designed to treat other forms of valve disease, which have a tendency to dislodge.

The new JenaValve Trilogy bionic implant, which has a metal frame and a valve from a pig, can be fitted during a minimally invasive procedure that takes less than an hour. 'There's been nothing like this before,' said cardiologist Professor Andreas Baumbach, who led the team pioneering the device at St Bartholomew's Hospital in London.

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'The JenaValve Trilogy will make a huge difference. The first few hundred patients have been treated now and there has been almost a 100 per cent success rate.'

During the operation to implant the JenaValve Trilogy, a small incision is made in the femoral artery in the groin – an anaesthetic is used to numb the area but patients are wide awake.

A fine, flexible tube called a catheter is then inserted into the artery and threaded up through the body and into the heart, with surgeons using an X-ray machine to see in real-time what they are doing. The JenaValve, which is made from a collapsable tube-shaped metal frame, is put into place via the catheter. Initially it is folded up, but once the surgeon confirms it is in the right place, it is opened out.

Fully expanded, the valve is around an inch in diameter, but the size can be adjusted in-situ to make sure it's a perfect fit. Three small legs – 'a bit like the legs on the lunar landing module,' said Prof Baumbach – lock it into position over the natural aortic valve, and it begins to work straight away.

The catheter is then removed, the incision stitched up and patients are allowed to go home a day or two later.

One of the first people in the UK to benefit from the new procedure was Ronald Pavett, 86, a retired Royal Mail worker from Chesham in Buckinghamshire.

He said: 'Even opening a bottle of water left me totally exhausted and gasping for breath. My breathing was really bad. Going up the stairs I'd be on all fours, and I could only wear slip-on shoes as bending over to tie laces left me totally puffed out. I used to enjoy cycling, but this had to stop.'

First diagnosed in 2019, Mr Pavett underwent another type of valve replacement and had a pacemaker fitted, both of which failed to help significantly and his future seemed bleak. 'I thought it was the end of the road at that point,' admitted the married grandfather-of-two.

'After the first valve replacement failed to work, I thought I wouldn't have long left. But then my consultant told me I was eligible for this new procedure.'

Last month he had the JenaValve fitted and began to feel better almost straight away.

He said: 'The op itself was totally painless – I didn't feel a thing. I was up and about in a few days, and I've noticed so much improvement.

'My breathing problems used to keep me awake, but I'm sleeping deeply now and no longer feel puffed out when speaking. I had got used to giving one-word answers to everything, to save my breath, but now I can chat to people again.

'I'm walking again, a bit further every day, and hopefully soon I'll be back on my bike. In my opinion, this implant is the best thing since sliced bread.'


Weird science: Anaesthetic that turns urine green

A woman who underwent weight-loss surgery in India woke up with an unexpected side-effect from the general anaesthetic – her urine had turned green.

Doctors had initially feared a serious urinary tract infection, but tests came back clear and all other vital signs in the 62-year-old from New Delhi were normal.

A 62-year-old woman who underwent weight-loss surgery in India woke up with an unexpected side-effect from the general anaesthetic – her urine had turned green

Upon further investigation, the doctors found that the most likely cause was the anaesthetic drug, propofol, according to their findings in Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research.

In fewer than one per cent of cases, a harmless side effect is green urine. After 12 hours, the woman's urine was back to its normal colour.


Your amazing body

When most people pinch together a thumb and little finger, a tendon protrudes on the inside of the wrist. But for 15 per cent of people it won't, because they don't have the palmaris longus muscle which stretches from the hand to the elbow.

Lacking one does not affect grip strength, but does decrease strength in the fourth and fifth fingers.

The muscle may have helped our ape-like ancestors to swing in trees, but as humans evolved to walk on all fours it became redundant. Scientists say it may one day disappear from humans altogether.

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Major update in Harmony Montgomery case as murder investigation launched two years after eight-year-old went missing

A LITTLE girl, who’s been missing for nearly two years, was found dead, and her missing person case is now officially a homicide.

Harmony Montgomery, eight, seemingly vanished in 2019, but no one reported her missing until December 2021 after a series of alleged errors.

2 Little Harmony Montgomery was last seen alive in October 2019

WBZ CBS 2 Harmony recently turned eight years old, and her brother and his stepfamily had a birthday for her

On Thursday, Manchester, New Hampshire police said (X).

Her family and police have tried to keep hope alive throughout the frustrating, months-long investigation until ominous breakthrough in mid-June broke their spirits.

That’s when law enforcement at every level – local, state and federal – swarmed the former New Hampshire home of Harmony’s father Adam Montgomery and his estranged wife Kayla.

Police were outside the home for about 24 hours.



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At one point, FBI agents wheeled a refrigerator in and out of the house and secured it with specialized wrapping.

Police told her younger brother’s stepdad Blair Miller and their family to “prepare for the worst.”


Harmony was last seen alive in October 2019; however, police were not aware of her disappearance until two years later.

According to records by the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, Harmony was bounced between her mother’s care and DCF for much of her young life.

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Police narrowed down the time of her disappearance to November 28 to December 10, 2019, but the months-long search has been frustrating.

Her biological father Adam and his estranged wife Kayla were arrested on separate charges and have stymied the investigation.


The young girl was placed in her father’s custody in 2019 when she was roughly five years old.

Adam, 31, is being held on charges of felony second-degree assault stemming from an alleged attack against Harmony in 2019.

The 31-year-old is also facing a misdemeanor charge of interference with custody and two misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Adam’s brother, Michael, told police the 31-year-old was physically abusive to Harmony and gave her a black eye.

A detective then spoke to Harmony’s uncle Kevin Montgomery and asked him about Harmony’s eye injury.

According to court documents, he said Adam told him in July 2019 that he [Adam] “bashed her [Harmony] around the house.”

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Adam was allegedly angry at Harmony – who was five years old at the time – because she was supposed to be watching her infant brother but he started crying, which enraged the father.

The uncle also said Adam spanked his daughter, forced her to stand in the corner for hours, and ordered her to scrub a toilet with her toothbrush.

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