INDIANAPOLIS, April 11, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Franciscan St. Francis Health is the first hospital in the United States to implant a new device that could improve the quality of life for patients with aortic valve disease. The On-X® Aortic Prosthetic Valve with Anatomic Sewing Ring is the most advanced mechanical heart valve and first to address the important concern of distorting the adjacent structures within the heart. The innovative valve is the only mechanical valve that matches the contour of the heart. The first implant was performed by Marc Gerdisch, MD, chief of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery at Franciscan St. Francis Health and surgical director of the St. Francis Heart Valve Center. Gerdisch, a partner with Cardiac Surgery Associates, collaborated on the design of the device with On-X® Life Technologies, Inc. Gerdisch, an independent physician who chooses to practice at Franciscan St. Francis Health, successfully implanted the device in, a 35-year-old male, from Ellettsville, Ind. The patient sought help at Franciscan St. Francis Health when his condition eluded diagnosis for several months. Physicians at the Franciscan St. Francis Heart Valve Center found that infection had destroyed the patient's aortic valve and severely damaged the mitral valve. Although Gerdisch was able to repair his mitral valve, the aortic valve required replacement. Fortunately, the advanced On-X valve technology was available at St. Francis Heart Center. According to Gerdisch, there are several types of aortic valve disease and all of them pose a threat. Aortic valve disease often progresses slowly without obvious symptoms. Once symptoms appear, untreated patients have a poor prognosis. Aortic valve disease is responsible for more than 25,000 deaths yearly. Studies indicate that up to 50 percent of untreated patients will not survive beyond an average of two years after the onset of symptoms. Fortunately, surgery that replaces the aortic valve can extend the lives of those who suffer from aortic valve disease.