JOPLIN, Mo. — Mercy Hospital Joplin is celebrating a medical milestone.

Mercy has performed its 100th Watchman procedure in just 14 months. The procedure is an alternative to open-heart surgery for a-fib patients.

“Literally that means we have 100 patients that are off blood thinners now,” said Dr. Byungsoo Ko, Structural Cardiologist

Wednesday, Mercy Hospital Joplin held a party to celebrate.

“We were really blessed to have a really good team. I didn’t expect it to grow this fast. I didn’t have any doubt that we would have a really strong program in terms of outcomes like safety and efficacy,” said Dr. Ko.

Dr. Ko started the Structural Heart Program at Mercy 14 months ago.

The Watchman device is a short procedure that prevents clots from forming.

“After a month, month and a half, what happens is they grow their own tissues on top of the device. So, if you look at them from inside with your naked eyes you couldn’t tell where the device would be,” said Dr. Ko.

The Structural Heart Program helps Mercy serve more patients.

“When I first started here at Mercy we were having to refer patients to other hospitals to have it done. It wasn’t very common to have it at every hospital location. So it’s been very great for our community patients can stay here local with the doctors that know them. They can be close to family and go home the same day,” said Dr. Aj Caine, Non-Invasive Cardiologist.

Velma Quin had the procedure done on June 1st and she is grateful for the quick recovery.

“I’m 78 and that’s quite a consideration when you’re my age if you can say ‘i’m not gonna have any strokes,’ that’s a big gift,” said Quin, “I feel great and I’m very grateful that Mercy has put this program together and they have the quality of people they have chosen because its a great team.”

Mercy says the watchman procedure has a 99% success rate.

Dr. Caine says the skills they use in this procedure are helping them with other surgeries.