Robert Mitton is nearing the end of
his life. His aortic heart valve, which was replaced almost
fifteen years ago, is starting to fail. He has refused to
undergo the invasive open heart surgery procedure he had when
his heart valve was first replaced. Given what he thought was no
other viable long-term option, he accepted that his life would
end, sooner than later. He was given a terminal prognosis about
six months ago if he didn’t undergo another valve replacement
operation. It’s now been seven months and he is in severe pain,
sleeping more than he is awake, and unable to support himself
financially. He is physically weak and his mental capacity has
diminished due to the decrease in his heart’s ability to provide
adequate blood flow, affecting his ability to focus or do much
However, just two weeks ago and thanks to a doctor friend of ours, we discovered that another surgical option was available, one which is minimally invasive and could save his life. He has sent his records to Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, along with a letter from his primary care physician. He is awaiting their evaluation, though based on examinations and testing in Denver at Denver Health and CU Medical Center, he should qualify for surgery at Cedars-Sinai. Cedars-Sinai is one of a handful of advanced cardiological research centers in the United States.
Unfortunately, the last of Robert’s resources have been exhausted. Savings and help from friends and family have failed to amount to enough to cover his expenses for August. He will likely take his own life very soon, in order to avoid the last, and most painful, stage of life, and to avoid becoming homeless with no money.
The timing of everything is horrible. Any day now, Cedars-Sinai could offer him a funded operation. There are also various fundings sources available, given enough lead time, that would help him to get back to self-sufficiency if he were to choose to have surgery. Other than hospice care, there was nothing available to Robert to aid him in dying in peace.
So, given this drastic potential change of events, we ask you to help Robert to stay around so he can consider this new surgical option to save his life. Let’s try to avoid a travesty and not let this situation be contingent on money as the primary driving force.
Some of you may have already helped Robert. For that, we are grateful. Please consider making a donation to help Robert. If all you can do is offer your best wishes, please contact Robert directly.
Robert contacted us about seven months ago and asked us to document his experiences. I (Dave) have known him casually for almost fifteen years via our online and in-person interactions at the Colorado Macintosh User Group. We are making this plea out of our desire to help Robert, not at his behest. He isn’t (yet) aware of our actions, sending this message.
Here is Robert’s contact info and blog URL:
Here is a direct link you can use to donate to Robert via PayPal (debit and credit cards work, as well as PayPal transfers):
Please consider donating $50 or $100 or more, if you can. Or, even $20 would likely make a huge difference. It’s not often in one’s life that we can make a direct and significant difference to the life of another. Here’s your chance!
A little help from a bunch of people could make all the difference. Thanks.
Our deepest appreciation,
P.S. - Please feel free to write to us if you have any questions. We plan on sending out updates whenever something happens. Thank you so much for your consideration, and please accept our apologies if you feel you shouldn’t have received this message (and let us know --- we won’t bother you further).
P.P.S. - A deeper overview of Robert’s medical history and situation... At age fifteen Robert contracted acute rheumatic fever. He nearly died and was hospitalized for over ten days, the first five of which he was held in isolation until his condition was identified. At age twenty he contracted rheumatic fever again. By then, he had already been told that he would never be able to obtain medical insurance. He was told that his heart, and likely other parts of his body, would deteriorate and fail sometime around age forty. At forty-four, Robert underwent what was excruciatingly painful open heart surgery to install a bovine aortic replacement valve. He was hospitalized for a month. It took many more months for him to fully recover, though his capability to continue doing strenuous physical activity was permanently diminished. The bovine replacement valve had a projected lifespan of ten to fifteen years. It has been almost fifteen years now since his first valve replacement.
Because of his more advanced age now, and considering what happened to him the first time around (permanent degradation of his lifestyle), he has decided not to undergo another open heart surgery. A less invasive surgery, called TAVR (trans-catheter aortic valve replacement) was not a viable option for Robert, as it is very risky and given only to people much older who have no other options (and to people who haven’t already had a valve replacement).
The surgery available at Cedars-Sinai is also a TAVR procedure, but it is several generations beyond what is currently available at your typical hospital (since Cedars-Sinai is one of a handful of advanced cardiological research centers).
Robert has had many heart-related incidents since his first valve replacement, including a couple of stays in the hospital, and several visits. He suffers daily from deep pain in his heart and chest region. Since his heart has grown increasingly unable to pump blood efficiently, he has lost much of his ability to do his current line of work, web design/consulting and website SEO. Robert used to install ceiling-mounted surgical microscopes before he moved to more sedentary work (due in large part to his heart issues).