Honolulu resident Jim Nabors, best known for his 1960s television role as Gomer Pyle, was among the first patients to successfully undergo a new heart valve procedure last week at the Queen’s Medical Center.
The heart valve replacement via catheter through the groin was approved late last year by the U.S Food and Drug Administration for heart disease patients previously deemed inoperable. The procedure is an alternative to the more invasive open-heart surgery that involves exposing the heart with an incision in the breast for patients with failing aortic heart valves, which sit between the heart and aorta.
Nabors, 81, missed his annual singing performance at this year’s Indianapolis 500 over the Memorial Day weekend to undergo the surgery. He had suffered for four years from the effects of aortic stenosis, a severe narrowing of the heart valve that causes fatigue.
"I just get very weak. I don’t want to do anything and am in bed all day. It’s really no way to live," said the Hollywood actor with a rich classical baritone voice. "My strength is coming back and I’m having more energy now. One of the things I noticed first is my thinking was clearer, my body was getting blood. The recovery was amazing, they had me on my feet the very next day. It’s phenomental that they’re actually able to do this or I wouldn’t be here."