NEENAH, Wis. (WFRV) – For long-time Neenah resident, Donald Krause, there is nothing that brings him joy quite like playing the French horn, but that was all put in jeopardy when he was diagnosed with heart disease.

“I’ve directed hundreds of French horn people from around the entire country. I would like to continue to be able to do that but having chest pains there was a concern I might not be able to continue to do that,” shared Donald Krause.

His diagnosis of Chronic Myocardial Ischemia (heart disease) gave him chest pain and difficulty breathing, but also made him the perfect candidate to be the first person in the world to undergo Investigational Cell Therapy for heart disease.

Krause showed us what his musical abilities were reduced to before the surgery and said because he struggled to breathe he had to take a breath every few seconds.

His team of cardiologists in the Fox Valley suggested he look into joining the new Investigational Cell Therapy trial in Madison.

Dr. Amish Raval is an Interventional Cardiologist at UW Health and he performed the operation on Krause.

“Their heart is actually squeezing pretty well. It’s actually one of the requirements for entry into this new trial is that their heart has to be in decent shape. It has to be viable but their problem is a limitation of blood flow to the heart,” explained Dr. Raval.

The procedure uses the patient’s own bone marrow cells sent directly to the heart to help jump-start the healing process.

“We all harness an ability to have these cells in our bone marrow that if we harvest them out and we inject them back into the heart we think that they will impart benefits. New blood vessel formation, decreased inflammation,” said Dr. Raval.

Krause said it’s not just about getting back to the music, he wanted to do his part to advance science for all that are suffering.

“To be able to pass that on to hundreds of thousands of people in the next ten, fifteen years and to know I was the first one to have that treatment to me that is just a very heartwarming thing,” said Krause.

Around the two weeks, post-surgery Donald Krause said he no longer has terrible chest pains and can play the French horn like he did before the diagnosis.