Vegetarian’s life saved by pig’s valve in heart surgery

A vegetarian had a pig valve fitted to fix a life-threatening heart condition and is now fit enough to go back to the gym.

Robyn Cairney, 20, first realised something was wrong when she collapsed during a fitness class and was rushed to hospital.

Doctors diagnosed her with a rare heart disease called aortic stenosis and regurgitation, meaning her body’s largest artery had narrowed, allowing blood to flow back into the heart – a condition which affects just two per cent of the population.

Symptoms can include chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness and fainting as a result of reduced blood flow.

As a matter of life and death, medics told the animal-lover she needed an aortic valve replacement, a complex surgery which would involve replacing her own failing heart valve with an animal valve.

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