Abu Dhabi: Muhammad Akif Badila, a 31-year-old Pakistani man, suffered from a serious heart disease that required the replacement of a bicuspid aortic valve and congestive heart failure, one of the most serious hereditary heart diseases that affect humans.
After losing hope, he went to Cleveland Clinic Hospital in Abu Dhabi, where the doctors there immediately decided to perform a complex surgery to replace the aortic valve and return the heart to its normal condition and performance.
An intricate heart valve replacement procedure was the only viable option for Muhammad if his full heart function was to be restored and he was to lead a normal life.
Bicuspid aortic valve disease
Bicuspid aortic valve disease occurs when there is a flaw in the valve responsible for regulating blood flow from the heart into the aorta.
With no prior symptoms, in December 2022, Aakif started experiencing shortness of breath and severe swelling in his legs back home in Karachi.
Doctors diagnosed him with aortic valve disease which led him to Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute as a recommended option for care, given its advanced expertise, innovative technology and past successes in treating complex heart diseases.
With the support of his family and the guidance of Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s International Patient Services team, he embarked on a journey to Abu Dhabi.
By the time Aakif and his family arrived in the UAE, his heart function had severely deteriorated, functioning at a critically low ejection fraction of 15%, significantly lower than the normal range of 50-70%. In addition, Aakif’s heart had enlarged by a staggering 50% from a leaking aortic valve, which further compromised his health. His family had become progressively more anxious and worried about his life-threatening condition.
Dr. Umer Darr, Staff Physician in the Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute of Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi says: “Aakif’s heart valve was not closing properly, causing his heart to enlarge to 8.2 cm, way past the normal average of 5.5 cm, causing it to function poorly.
"A valve replacement was the only option to save Aakif’s life. Despite the high risks associated with his condition, we believed that the benefits of the surgery outweighed the potential challenges. We were committed to helping him regain a better quality of life.”
The surgical intervention involved an aortic valve replacement using a biological (bovine) prosthesis and took all the elements of the complexities of Aakif’s case into consideration such as his young age and reduced heart function.
Aakif’s case was managed by a team of multidisciplinary experts from different subspecialtiesincluding electrophysiology, transplant and ICU. The key focus of these teams was to maintain heart function beforeand during surgery and aid recovery after the operation.
Reflecting on his journey, Aakif expresses gratitude for the care he received, stating, “The team at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi not only gave me hope but also provided exceptional care throughout my treatment. I am truly thankful for the second chance at life they’ve given me.”
Aakif was also appreciative of his experience with the International Patients Services department which offered him exceptional personalised care. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is dedicated to serving patients from the UAE and the wider region, reflecting in its commitment to making healthcare more accessible and positioning the emirate as a hub for life sciences.
Aakif’s case demonstrates the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to care, involving advanced innovative technology and expert physicians in addressing complex medical conditions such as heart disease. The Department of Health – Abu Dhabi designated Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi as a Centre of Excellence for Adult Cardiac Surgery recently, recognizing the hospital’s capabilities in successfully conducting a range of integrated cardiac surgery and structural heart disease interventions.
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi has been recognized as a Centre of Excellence for Adult Cardiac Surgery by the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi, reinforcing its commitment to world-class standard of care.