LUCOM Grand Rounds features LU President Jerry Falwell with medical experts on groundbreaking surgical device

Christopher Breedlove [LUCOM Marketing] and Liberty University News Service | Oct 9, 2018

Liberty University College of Osteopathic MedicineLiberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine (LUCOM) filled its lecture auditoriums on Wednesday, Oct. 3, for a special Grand Rounds that hit home to Liberty University. Faculty, staff, student-doctors, media guests, and friends of the university all heard from two prominent medical experts leading the way in a new-innovative heart procedure that is less invasive than direct heart surgery. The event was also streamed live as a “Convo Select” on Liberty’s main campus inside the Center for Music and Worship Arts Concert Hall to the student body as well as streamed live on Facebook.

The first guest to present was Jim Thompson, MD, FACC, FAAP, a surgeon and medical director of Child Cardiology Associates. Dr. Thompson outlined the case of a patient he had recently treated with the groundbreaking NobleStitch™ device, which uses a long suture catheter to close the patent foramen ovale (PFO) in the heart. The patient was none-other than Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr.

Liberty University College of Osteopathic MedicineAccording to Falwell, he had two minor strokes in 2016 and several issues with migraines throughout his life. Connecting with United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, MD, this past May during graduation, Falwell credited him to recommending the procedure with the new NobleStitch™. “It’s just a miracle that it happened the way it did, and it’s because of this medical school [LUCOM]. “If Ben Carson hadn’t come to speak here I never would’ve found the problem; he said I’m very fortunate that I didn’t have a major stroke.”

Dr. Thompson is the only surgeon in America who currently does the NobleStitch™ procedure, recently approved by the FDA and has been performed on less than 150 people (1558 worldwide). Falwell underwent the procedure last month in Fairfax, Va., the only location in the United States available for this procedure.

The second guest to present was the inventor of the NobleStitch™, Professor Anthony “Tony” Nobles, CEO of HeartStitch®. The NobleStitch™ procedure involves running a device to the heart through a vein in a patient’s leg and stitching it closed, leaving behind a suture rather than a metallic device embedded in the heart. The minor surgery takes less than an hour to complete. “This is a collaboration between engineers, scientists, physicians, and patients, and the procedure is pretty straightforward,” Nobles said.

“When I look at things from a biomedical perspective, I try to think about what can be done in surgery percutaneously without cutting someone open,” Nobles said. “Why would you do something that is less effective? That was the whole premise to the start of creating the NobleStitch™.”

Nobles has invented more than 150 medical devices, secured more than 70 patents, and has presented at a wide array of global conferences and universities, including the American College of Surgeons, the Society of Vascular Surgery, and Harvard Medical School. 

Dr. Thompson also said that “the patent foramen ovale is so common it affects 20 percent of people. The condition isn’t problematic for many, but others experience migraines and strokes, as Falwell reported.”

Liberty University College of Osteopathic MedicineThe trio [Thompson, Nobles, and Falwell] closed Grand Rounds encouraging the medical students to learn to collaborate across their profession to create new procedures and technology that will change the course of medicine. Nobles mentioned that there’s a unique collaboration that exists. “Engineers, physicians, and scientists; if we can learn to speak the same language, that’s how we solve all these problems.”

In closing, Falwell said he hopes to see Liberty’s student-doctors take their knowledge to underserved markets so they can help more people in need of procedures like the NobleStitch™. “The technology is already there, but we need to get them into the smaller hospitals and do things that people at smaller hospitals don’t think about.”

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