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Mayra Guerrero, MD, Interventional Cardiologist at NorthShore, is one of the leading physicians in developing new alternatives to open-heart surgery. In doing so, it improves outcomes and reduces recovery time for patients. Dr. Guerrero and her team were the first in the world to perform transcatheter mitral valve replacement (TMVR) of a patient’s original valve (native valve) without a surgical incision or a heart pump machine. The new valve was inserted through a plastic tube in a leg vein on a beating heart. She has trained many physicians across the nation in this procedure.
Get to know the physician behind the mask, learn more about her job and her passions as she answers the questions below:
What attracted you to the field of medicine? Was there a particular moment of realization? Where did it all start?I was 16 years old when I decided I wanted to become a doctor and sent my application to medical school. I realized medicine is the only field that combines science and allows you to help others everyday. I started the School of Medicine at Universidad Autonoma de Baja California in Mexico at age 17.
When did your attention turn to cardiology? What led you to this specialty?I was 19 years old when I decided to become at cardiologist. I was a medical student then taking care of a 52-year-old heart attack patient during my cardiology rotation. The recovery of this patient after receiving treatment was impressive. I decided that day that this was what I wanted to do, nothing else.
What do you enjoy most about your job?When patients feel better after you fix the heart with a minimally invasive procedure.
What is a transcatheter mitral valve replacement (TMVR)?It is a minimally invasive procedure that allows doctors to replace a mitral valve by inserting the new transcatheter valve through a small plastic tube in a leg vein or through a small cut in the side of the chest wall.
You recently yielded a very successful trial pertaining to the TMVR, why is this trial so important?The MITRAL Trial (Mitral Implantation of TRANscatheter vaLves) evaluates TMVR for patients who have a calcified native (original) mitral valve, or a prior surgical tissue valve that has failed of a prior repair with a surgical ring that no longer works. This is the first trial of this kind and helps us offer this option to patients who are not healthy enough for a standard open-heart surgery.
What is your biggest inspiration in continuing to do research and advancements in your field?To find less invasive ways to fix hearts for patients who have limited options because they are not healthy enough to have standard open-heart surgery.
Besides medicine, what is your passion and how does it inspire you?My favorite activities besides medicine are travel and to run in the mornings. Wherever I go in the world, I like to run outside and watch the sunrise. I collect pictures of sunrises. They are different in different parts of the world but always beautiful!