New hope for patients with a particular type of heart defect

WICHITA, Kansas – When Karen Bonar learned that she had a heart defect, she couldn’t believe it.

“I was kind of in denial, I was cranky, and I was annoyed,” said Bonar. “I was mad. I was like this is absurd, I am 32, I’m active, I’m healthy, and I was like this is wrong .”

Five days after Karen gave birth to her son in 2012, she was back in the hospital with blood clots in her lungs.

A year later, she had some vision loss.

“So, I called my family doctor, and we got everything checked out.”

That led to Karen and her husband finding out that she had an atrial septal defect.

“A congenital hole, or as we say in the vernacular, a defect in the upper chambers of the heart ,” said Dr. Omar Ali, performed procedure.

Hers was a special type known as a patent foramen ovale or PFO for short.

That brought her from Salina to Wichita and to Dr. Omar Ali, who wanted to use a proven and less invasive procedure to fix it.

“Candidates can be considered for percutaneous approaches, meaning we can insert catheters through the leg veins, reach the hole, cross the hole, and then plug up the hole using a a device or a number of devices on the market,” said Dr. Ali.

The procedure has been used in other places for some time, but it’s new to this area, and Karen is the first here to have it done.

“This procedure has been done for a very long time with excellent results,” said Dr. Ali.

With a fairly short recovery period, now things can go back to normal.

“Everyone’s healthy, and it’s just life as I always knew, life as I knew it before, and I’m thankful,” said Karen.

Doctor Ali says the procedure isn’t for everybody, and he suggests anyone considering it needs to talk to their doctor to see if they could be a candidate.

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