A Thames man has become the first in New Zealand to successfully undergo a new heart surgery technique.
Noel Howard, 78, underwent aortic valve replacement surgery in Waikato Hospital on Thursday.
The operation, led by cardiothoracic surgeon Nand Kejriwal and cardiologist Sanjeevan Pasupati, took just over an hour. It involved a keyhole incision in the chest to carry out the surgery while the patient's heart is still beating.
Ailsa Fleming, 86, died last week of unrelated causes, in what was the first attempt of the procedure in the southern hemisphere.
Waikato Hospital says it sees a bright future for the alternative heart surgery technique.
Clinical director of cardiology Gerry Devlin says he expects other hospitals in New Zealand will also be keen to carry out the procedure.
Dr Devlin says it is likely the number undertaken around the country will rise in the next few years.