WORCESTER, Mass. - When Margery Dearborn started losing her breath from just walking across the room, she thought it was her age catching up to her. The then-99-year-old decided to see her doctor after her condition got even worse.

"I was panting trying to catch my breath," Dearborn said. "My doctor diagnosed atrial stenosis."

In everyday terms, one of Margery's heart valves was not opening properly, and blood was not flowing in its normal fashion.

What You Need To Know

  • Worcester's Margery Dearborn became one of the oldest people to ever have a heart valve replacement

  • Dearborn had the procedure done just five days after her 100th birthday

  • Margery was diagnosed with atrial stenosis, which tightened up one of her heart valves and prevented blood from properly flowing

  • After a few days in the hospital, Margery was discharged and sent home. She says she's feeling well

Margery then saw Dr. Nikolaos Kakouros, UMass Memorial Medical Center's medical director for the Transcatheter Valve Replacement program.

"It's a mechanical problem," Kakouros said. "That's what I tell the patients. This is a mechanical issue. Your valve is thick, it's stiff, it's calcified, it's not opening very well. There's no pill that's going to fix that."

Margery underwent a valve replacement procedure just five days after celebrating her 100th birthday, making her one of the oldest patients to ever have it done.

A small balloon was placed into her heart. The metal scaffolding acts as an anchor, and the balloon allows the valve to open once again.

Dr. Kakouros says the condition, which is quite common, can be caused by a of number of health issues, diseases, or in Margery's case, wear and tear from her age.

"After almost 100 years of life, 70 beats a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours a day every day of the year, if you do the math, that valve has opened and closed over three and a half billion times," Kakouros said.

Recovery has gone well for Margery.

"I'm feeling good. I certainly can breathe better, see," Dearborn joked as she inhaled deeply. "It's wonderful."

Her message to Kakouros, "I think he's a miracle man."

She says while tomorrow isn't always a promise, she's not planning on going anywhere anytime soon. Margery already has a busy summer planned for 2025.

"Next June, my granddaughter will be married," Margery said. "They're planning that marriage. And, I want to see another Fourth of July."