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Couple diagnosed with same heart issue, receive same procedure at RGH

Wilhelmina and John Veldhuizen underwent the same procedure at RGH after being diagnosed with the same heart condition.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- A local couple will mark their 71st Valentine's Day together. In part, thanks to a lifesaving procedure they both received at Rochester General Hospital.

Wilhelmina and John Veldhuizen met in the 1940s in Holland. John noticed Wilhelmina on a see-saw at an amusement park.

"I jumped on one side, she was on the other side. We started off right there,” said John Veldhuizen.

Married more than 70 years, the two share a lot, but one thing they didn't plan on was the same medical problem. First John was diagnosed with mitral regurgitation - a leaky heart valve.

"A lot of headaches. I kind of wobbled like I was drunk,” said John.

The condition can ultimately cause heart failure. A few months later Wilhelmina got the news.

"The doctor decided I had the same problem,” Wilhelmina said.

Both would end up at Rochester General receiving what's called a mitraclip procedure.

"It's a non-surgical procedure where we are able to clip the mitral valve and reduce the leakiness down to mild or moderate in a large portion of patients,” said Dr. Jeremiah Depta, an Interventional Cardiologist at RGH.

Locally, it's only available at RGH and provides for a quick recovery.

"Patients will wake up, go to a regular nursing floor and then be discharged from the hospital the day after,” said Dr. Depta.

"He came in and said, ‘Ok, you're in good spirits and good everything, you can go,’” said Wilhelmina.

"I got better and better, and as soon as I got out of the hospital I was walking again,” said John.

The couple is now home and back to their usual routines.

"Do my own work, my own washing, my own ironing, my own everything. I do my own cooking and I feel great,” said Wilhelmina.

They'll celebrate their 72nd wedding anniversary in May.

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