Neenah man gets new lease on life after trial heart procedure

Donald Krause plays his French horn, ten days after receiving a new lease on life.
Donald Krause plays his French horn, ten days after receiving a new lease on life.(WBAY)
Published: Oct. 29, 2021 at 4:21 PM CDT
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NEENAH, Wis. (WBAY) - A Neenah man who’s lived with chest pain for years caused by heart disease now has a new lease on life.

As a musician, a horn instructor, and the founder of “Horns a Plenty Christmas,” Donald Krause understands the importance of being first chair. And now, at 81 years old, “I’m patient one. I’m patient number one and that’s all I am,” says Krause.

After suffering with chest pain for years, caused by Chronic Myocardial Ischemia (CMI), Krause became the first patient in the country to undergo a clinical trial to deal with the pain at U.W. Health in Madison.

“To be able to continue my life, to be able to better my life, to be able to get away from the chest pain in my body, it’s going to be worth it,” says Krause.

Dr. Amish Raval, an interventional cardiologist at U.W. Health and associate professor of medicine at the U.W. School of Medicine and Public Health, is leading the clinical trial.

With the help of a team, bone marrow cells were collected from Krause’s hip, put into a centrifuge and separated. Then, those cell were injected into ten different places of Krause’s heart.

According to Dr. Raval, “We know that we all harness an ability to have these cell in our bone marrow that if we harvest them out and inject them back into the heart, we think that they will impart benefits, new blood vessel formation and decrease inflammation and so on to improve Don’s symptoms and potentially his ability to walk and functional capacity.”

After a night in the hospital, Krause was sent home thanks to Dr. Raval’s work. Ten days later he feels like a kid again, saying, “It just blows me away that something like that was done to me a week-and-a-half ago and I’m sitting here talking to you guys about it as though I was a teenager.”

While he won’t follow up with the U.W. doctors until next month, Krause is convinced the procedure was a success. He adds, “I feel more energetic than I have felt in years. But guess what, I have not had a chest pain since a week ago Monday, and that’s great!”

And now, instead of living with pain, he can focus on the music that makes his heart happy.

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