PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – It may seem unimaginable: having a major heart operation and going home the same day. But that is now an option at St. Clair Hospital.

Jack Hudson was short of breath because of a bad heart valve. He had a procedure to replace it without opening his chest. It was done with a small incision in his groin and a catheter threaded up through the blood vessels and into the heart.

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“I was ready for it,” he said.

His procedure was at 8:30. He had lunch at 2.

“They asked me how I felt and everything, and I said, ‘I feel good.’ And they said, ‘uh, you wanna go home?’ I said, ‘sure,'” he said.

“My wife had it done a year ago,” he added. “She went home the next day. I thought that was great. And then I go home the same day.”

His daughter, however, wasn’t as thrilled.

“They said it was okay, but I was surprised,” she said.

Her big concern: “Having to take him back in the middle of the night.”

“The most common thing we worry about is an arrhythmia,” said heart surgeon Dr. Andy Kiser.

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Luckily, Jack had a pacemaker which makes an abnormal heart rhythm unlikely.

“Which is why he is one of the first ones we sent home on the same day,” said Dr. Kiser. “With Mr. Hudson it worked out great.”

This isn’t the routine for every patient, but he met all the criteria: the case must be finished by 11, the patient has to have lunch, walk around the ward three times, have no abnormal heart rhythms and live close to the hospital.

Going home the same day helps both the hospital and the patient.

“COVID was a big instigator of this. We had a lot of shortages for beds, COIVD was using ICU resources,” said Dr. Kiser.

“These patients are older, they don’t like spending a night in the hospital, both emotionally and physically, and it’s hard for someone who’s in their 80s or 90s to wake up in a strange place, not be able get around. It’s really a setback for them,” Dr. Kiser added. “If we can get them back to their normal environment, they do a lot better, quicker.”

While Michele was initially nervous, she’s grateful her father did not have any problems.

“I hope we don’t do it again, but we’re good,” she said.

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Jack says he has more pep now and enjoys the excitement of being one of the first patients to go home the same day as his heart procedure.