Woman Back to Salsa Dancing After Heart Surgery

By: Rick Pietzak and Micah Wolf

Colleen Shirey is a school teacher with a passion for salsa dancing.  But at one point, the Whitehall woman was worried about her dancing future. 

Shirey was born with mitral valve prolapse, a condition that never interrupted her life until the summer of 2013 when she developed a serious infection. As a result, doctors at UPMC Shadyside found that she had mitral valve regurgitation, a condition that can lead to sudden cardiac arrest. Shirey needed surgery but hoped to delay it as long as possible out of fear of not being able to dance.

“It’s been a passion of ours for 15 years,” Shirey said.

She met with Vinay Badhwar, M.D., to discuss robotic mitral valve repair, which offered a minimally invasive approach and shorter recovery time than traditional open-heart surgery. Feeling less anxious, she underwent the procedure in March 2013.

Five weeks later, she was back on the dance floor with her husband, Jeff, and teaching others how to dance, too.

“Colleen is a classic example of what we can with these types of innovative procedures.  She bounced back, miraculously and has done tremendously well,” Dr. Badwhar said.