An innovative device has changed one man’s fight against aortic valve disease. 

When Clayton Bliss was a kid, he was diagnosed with aortic valve disease and aortic stenosis. He was initially told that he wouldn’t be able to play sports or exert himself.

Bliss went on to become an actor, and at 27, he was playing Papa Bear in Shrek the Musical at Derby Dinner Playhouse. But in July 2019, an annual heart checkup determined that the problem had escalated and surgery was in his future.

Norton Children’s Heart Institute offered Bliss a few options to choose from—including replacement of his aortic valve with a mechanical or animal version—but he chose a recent innovative approach. Developed by J. Scott Rankin, MD, the HAART 200 Aortic Annuloplasty Device helps the aortic valve repair itself, no replacements needed. Bliss, who reports he’s feeling better than ever, said using his own tissue made more sense than having a valve replacement that would entail numerous complications and restrictions.