Sharing Mayo Clinic

Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff

July 20, 2015

Patient Comes to Mayo for Foot Surgery, Receives Lifesaving Surprise

By Cynthia Weiss

Virgil Jernigan is enjoying his retirement thanks to surgery to repair a leaky mitral valve.When Virgil Jernigan came to Mayo Clinic for foot surgery, he was in for a lifesaving surprise. During an exam before his surgery, he mentioned to his nurse practitioner that he had been feeling fatigued and short of breath. So she ordered cardiac testing. Virgil was shocked to learn he had a leaking mitral valve – a potentially life-threatening heart condition. 

After consultations with his cardiology/cardiothoracic surgery team, Virgil was cleared for his orthopedic procedure. He also ultimately underwent a second, minimally invasive surgery to repair his mitral valve.

Today, Virgil is back to walking, golfing and, finally, enjoying his retirement, thanks to the questioning nature and follow-up of his nurse practitioner at Mayo Clinic.

He tells his story in the video below.


Tags: Cardiac surgery, Cardiology & Cardiac Surgery, Cardiovascular Diseases, Mitral Valve Disease, Orthopedic Surgery, Orthopedics

Hey I’m 35 yrs old and I got diagnose wit chiari malformation bout four yrs ago. And lalety I’ve been really tired n dealin wit bad dizzy spells n headache ..i need help asap cant handle it anymore


I’m sorry not really sure if I’m on the right spot to message.. Please help me


Hi, Natty. I’m sorry to hear that. Here’s a link to information about Chiari malformation, including various treatment options:
If you would like to seek help from Mayo Clinic, please contact the Appointment office. You can find numbers for our various locations here:
I hope this is helpful to you.


I have been told I have a “leaky valve” is it the same as mentioned above and if so, what test should I have?– the doctors did not seem concerned about it-it was discovered during an ultra sound —my cousin also mentioned she has the same thing and she is a marathon runner so she is concerned also- worried–


Call and request an appt. with A cardiac diseases Dr. Click onlink for info. Talk to your primary Dr. for help too. But you can call directly to Mayo.


My dad is 82 and is experiencing fatigue, shortness of breath, and dizziness. he is now on eluiquis as of a month ago and we found out he has a PFO and may have had since birth. He has had an echocardiogram and a TEE. Is there any surgery at his age or perhaps a different treatment. Two cardiologists are not sure surgery will fix the “real” issue. They have now ordered a six minute walk test-and recommend the linq monitor.


Unfortunately, we cannot diagnose conditions, provide second opinions or make specific treatment recommendations through this website. If you would like to seek help from Mayo Clinic, please call one of our appointment offices (Arizona: 480-301-1735 Florida: 904-953-0853 Minnesota: 507-284-2511).

You might also consider looking into our Mayo Clinic Connect website (, where you can communicate with other patients who may have had similar experiences.

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