Married couple shares rare 'heart clip' procedure

A couple on the Space Coast is spending Valentine’s Day celebrating their sweet hearts, quite literally.

Vallie and Verne Listol are two of fewer than 200 people in the world who have received what are called "heart clips" from a surgeon at Health First.

Vallie and Verne are spending their 14th Valentine’s Day as a married couple. They were friends for years before then.

"We play golf. We used to ski. We like to travel. We get along well. I tell him what to do, and he does it," Vallie said.

This Valentine’s Day, they have matching heart clips. They both suffered from irregular heartbeats called atrial fibrillation, or A-fib, and they both became intolerant of blood thinners, so they needed another option to keep their hearts healthy and prevent the possibility of stroke.

"The clip essentially is a very simple device meant to squeeze on that appendage and close it from the outside without any portion of it being inside the heart chambers itself," Dr. Tamim Antaki, a surgeon with Health First, said.

Dr. Antaki is the world’s leading surgeon for the procedures. He performed the procedure first on Verne, and then on Vallie just one week later.

Dr. Antaki uses a surgical robot to make the procedure the least invasive possible. That means Verne and Vallie missed little time away from the golf course. Now they know they’re protecting the health of their hearts, which are now beating strongly together.

"We’re a matched set," Vallie said."Life in the fast lane is good," Verne said.

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