JUAN FERNANDO’S STORY Melody Transcatheter Pulmonary Valve

A Life-Saving Alternative to Open-Heart Surgery

Born without a pulmonary valve, Juan Fernando received two open-heart surgeries by the time he was six months old. When he needed his pulmonary valve replaced in 2010, Juan Fernando and his parents were relieved to learn that thanks to Melody, his valve could be replaced without open-heart surgery. Watch the video to hear Juan Fernando and his parents talk about how the Melody valve saved his life.

Juan Fernando was born without a pulmonary valve. He spent nine and a half months in intensive care after he was born, receiving his first open-heart surgery at just three weeks old and a second one at six months.

“I work in a field where the diseases themselves are uncommon and rare. That’s congenital heart disease,” says Juan’s surgeon, Evan Zahn, a pediatric cardiologist at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. “But Juan Fernando has a very special flavor of that. I’ve been doing this for 33 years and I’ve never seen another patient like him.”

When Juan Fernando needed his pulmonary valve replaced in 2010, he wasn’t deemed inoperable, but Zahn and his team regarded him as a high risk for another open-heart surgery because of all the work that had been done when he was a baby.

The Melody valve has saved me; it has brought me back to life.

Juan Fernando

“That was right around when the Melody valve was taking off,” says Zahn. “I think excited would be an understatement to describe his mother’s and father’s reaction when they realized he wasn’t going to need another open-heart surgery.”*

Juan Fernando’s procedure to implant the Melody valve was a great success. “When Juan Fernando came out of anesthesia,” his father laughs, “he was asking for sushi!”

“The valve goes in and starts working right away,” says Zahn. Juan Fernando went home from the hospital a couple days later and didn’t look back. He’s since graduated high school, won multiple trophies for equestrian jumping, and is looking forward to starting college.

“The Melody valve has saved me,” says Juan Fernando. “It has brought me back to life, and because of it I am a normal person and I’m perfectly fine.”

“In the 30+ years I’ve been doing this, I’ve seen virtually nothing in congenital heart disease treatment that has made as large of an impact as the Melody transcatheter pulmonary valve,” says Zahn.

This story recounts the experience of one patient who received a Melody transcatheter pulmonary valve. Medtronic invited this person to share his story candidly. Caution: Experience, risks, outcomes, and results vary. Patient experience may not be comparable to that of Juan’s, depending in part upon the condition of the patient or with the techniques, facilities, or products used.

Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.


Physician experience, risks, patient outcomes and results may vary.  Individuals with congenital heart disease (CHD) require lifelong management under the care of a CHD physician.