Garamendi Undergoes Surgery on Heart Valve

From the Associated Press

State Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi was recovering well Monday following surgery to repair a heart valve after he experienced discomfort while working at his Sierra foothills ranch over the weekend, aides said.

Doctors scheduled the procedure after finding a problem with the commissioner’s mitral valve, spokesman Byron Tucker said.

Garamendi emerged late Monday from more than five hours of surgery, which Tucker called a “100% success.” Surgeons expected the patient to return to his normal routine after a relatively short recovery period, Tucker said.

Garamendi, 61, is one of three people running for the Democratic nomination to succeed Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, who is barred by term limits from seeking a third term.


Tucker characterized Garamendi’s heart-valve problem as a “fairly common ailment.”

The mitral valve, a parachute-like valve on the left side of the heart, keeps blood from flowing backward into the lungs.

Tucker said Garamendi was herding cattle and repairing fences at his ranch near the Gold Rush town of Mokelumne Hill in Calaveras County when he felt “some discomfort and his family thought it prudent to take him to the hospital.”

Garamendi, a former state legislator, is in his second term as insurance commissioner. He won the post in 1990, the first person elected to regulate insurance companies in California. The commissioner had been appointed by the governor.

After an unsuccessful campaign for governor in 1994, Garamendi ran again for commissioner in 2002 and won.