Not long ago, 29-year-old resident of Pike County, Georgia — known as "J Man" — was dying from a congenital heart disease called aortic regurgitation. This condition makes the heart work two or three times as hard as normal. Refusing to give up hope, Jerimiah's mother, Connie Dodd, discovered there was a revolutionary medical procedure that could help her son. The procedure surgically implants a device, called the J-Valve, designed specifically for patients who require Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) due to aortic regurgitation. As opposed to open-heart surgery, this J-Valve procedure includes a TAVR delivery system that the surgeon guides through the femoral artery, which is much less invasive. TAVR devices specific to aortic regurgitation are not yet approved by the FDA, requiring the Dodd family to navigate many obstacles to obtain authorization for Jeremiah's surgery under the rules of compassionate use.
Jeremiah had the procedure in November 2019 and was discharged from the hospital within two days. At the time of his J-Valve surgical procedure, Jeremiah was the second patient in the U.S. to have a J-Valve replacement device for his heart, the first under age 55, and the first with Down Syndrome. "The fact that it saved him, and it can save others, is amazing," said Connie. "But a lot of people don't even know it exists because it's not FDA approved yet." She is hopeful the FDA will approve the J-Valve so other patients can benefit as Jeremiah has.