LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - East Texans will now be able to undergo a new life changing procedure for those with certain heart conditions.
It's called the watchman heart implant and can be used in exchange of blood thinners to reduce the risk of stroke.
Last week three heart institute cardiologists, Rohit Kedia, Satish Velagapudi, and Ilyas Khan, performed the first insertion of the watchman in Lufkin.
Royce Hopson was taking blood thinners because of her heart condition, atrial fibrillation.
"But you bruise easily or even bleed pretty quickly, so you have to watch for that," said Hopson.
Hopson had to stop taking her blood thinners, but without any medication her risk of stroke was high.
"Watchman is a device therapy for atrial fibrillation. We can put this device in the heart and decrease her risk of getting a stroke long term without a blood thinner," said Kedia.
Dr. Kedia and two other cardiologists performed their first watchman procedure on Hopson last week.
They said they've been preparing for almost two years.
"There was an enormous amount of planning to make sure we had everything in place. From getting our staff in the hospital trained, to dealing with the preparation of the procedure, the day of the procedure, and taking care of patients with the watchman device," said Kahn.
Hopson wants her story to help others facing problems with blood thinners.
"I hope that when people hear this it can help other folks that think about it. You know it can help them as good as it's helping me," Hopson said.
After the watchman procedure, blood thinners are taken for only 45 days if everything goes as planned.
According to local doctors they've scheduled two more procedures for the month of March.