FDA Approves Abbott’s Epic Plus Tissue Valves Use In Mitral or Aortic Valve Replacement

by Sloan T. Wilson, The Chicago Times

September 28, 2021

GREEN OAKS, IL — The Epic Plus and Epic Plus Supra Stented Tissue Valves from Abbott have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to improve therapy options for people with aortic or mitral valve disease.  These next-generation devices are based on Abbott’s Epic surgical valve platform, which has a long history of safety and good clinical outcomes and include innovations that make valve implantation and future cardiac interventions easier.

Heart valve disease occurs when one or more of the heart’s four valves fails to open or close properly, causing blood flow to the body to be disrupted. The aortic and mitral valves are the most commonly affected.  When diseased or damaged heart valves cannot be repaired, they can be surgically replaced with mechanical or bioprosthetic (tissue) valves during an open-heart surgery.  Epic Plus bioprosthetic valves do not require long-term use of blood-thinning medication, making them the preferred option for people who cannot take blood thinners or are over the age of 70.

Every year, over 100,000 people in the United States undergo conventional heart valve surgery, which is often a life-saving procedure.  The new Epic Plus tissue valves’ approval provides an important treatment option for patients undergoing valve replacement surgery without the need for long-term blood thinners, as well as a durable solution that allows for reinterventions as needed.

More radiopaque markers (reference points visible on radiographic scans) have been added to Epic Plus, making it easier for doctors to navigate if future transcatheter procedures are required.

The new valves, like the Epic surgical valve platform, are designed to provide long-term performance and durability thanks to Abbott’s proprietary anticalcification technology.

The Epic Plus Mitral holder, which aids in the precise insertion of the valve, also has a lower profile, allowing physicians a better view of the device during implantation.  The device can be implanted in either the aortic or mitral valve position, as well as in patients with more complex anatomies.

The Epic Plus Stented Tissue Valves are the newest addition to Abbott’s surgical tissue and mechanical heart valve portfolio.

Pritzker Approves Possible Inequitable Legislative Maps

by Frank Conklin, The Chicago Times

September 24, 2021

SPRINGFIELD, IL — Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed off on new legislative maps for the next decade on Friday, despite concerns from some Black and Latino voters that they would not be able to weigh in and would be unfairly represented.

Pritzker approved maps drawn up by his fellow Democrats for the second time, despite promising as a candidate in 2018 that he would veto any made by politicians.  He also signed an earlier version, which Democrats approved in May but critics said was flawed because it was based on population estimates.

Republicans and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund have filed lawsuits in federal court in Chicago to prevent the new maps from being used in elections.  Lawyers for MALDEF claim the maps violate the federal Voting Rights Act by creating fewer districts with a majority of Latinos of voting age, despite the fact that Latinos make up a larger percentage of the state’s population than they did a decade ago.

The United Congress of Community and Religious Organizations, which advocates for the “equitable advancement of marginalized communities,” claimed that the new maps “weaken the voting power of Black and Latino community members and largely ignore Asian American and Arab American communities.”

CHANGE Illinois, which advocates for an independent map-drawing process, noted that Latino groups that have filed lawsuits claim that Latino power has been diluted, Black activists claim that the map does not create enough Black majority voting age districts, and Jewish communities on Chicago’s north side and north suburbs have been divided.

Pritzker’s defense is that as a candidate in 2018, he advocated for the establishment of an independent commission, and when Democrats in complete control of state government failed to do so, lawmakers faced a June 30 deadline to complete the map.  However, June 30 was simply the date on which Democrats would have lost control of the process. At that point, it would have been up to a bipartisan commission comprised of an equal number of Democrats and Republicans — the process that critics want a federal judge to initiate. Democrats refer to this as the “real political process,” and they want to avoid it for a variety of reasons, including the fact that a ninth member would be chosen at random to break any tie votes, potentially giving the GOP the final say.

Illinois Democrats have not yet voted on new congressional district boundaries, but with the state losing a House seat due to population loss, it is expected that they will remove a GOP-held district and try to make other districts more Democratic-friendly.

Frank Conklin, Illinois Political Reporter/Columnist for The Chicago Times.  Views and comments expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the official position of The Chicago Times.

Woman Handed 75 Years For Killing Boyfriend’s Son

by T. C. Mayfield, The Chicago Times

September 18, 2021

PEKIN, IL — An Illinois woman accused of murdering her boyfriend’s 4-year-old son was given 75 years in prison.

Lesli Jett was portrayed as a selfish drug addict who disliked being at Tate Thurman’s East Peoria home.  When the boy died in 2020, he had numerous bruises and abrasions.  Jeremy Thurman, the boy’s father, claims Jett appeared loving but was hiding “malicious behavior.”

Jett was the mother of a 2-year-old child.


by The Chicago Times Staff

September 10, 2021

JOLIET, IL — A man’s body was pulled from the Des Plaines River in Joliet, Illinois, on Friday morning.  A boater reported seeing a floater in the river around 11:20 a.m., prompting Joliet police to respond to North Bluff Street and West Jefferson Street.

The body was found floating along the river’s west bank, appeared to be that of an African American adult male, according to Joliet police.

The body was recovered by the Joliet Fire Department, and the victim was pronounced dead at the scene by the Will County Coroner’s Office.

The incident is still being investigated by Joliet police.  There were no further details available at the time.  Anyone with information should contact the Joliet police.


by Frank Conklin, The Chicago Times

September 9, 2021

SPRINGFIELD, IL — The Illinois House was set to approve a broad plan to eliminate carbon emissions by 2050 on Thursday, with a compromise allowing two coal-fired plants to remain open until 2045 while cutting emissions by nearly half over the next 14 years.

The plan was approved by the Executive Committee on a partisan roll call of 9-6 early Thursday afternoon, with Republicans who opposed it saying that they support helping to keep northern Illinois nuclear plants operational, but that the abrupt end of coal-generated power would cost thousands of jobs and leave Illinois reliant on energy produced by burning fossil fuels in other states.

The legislation, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Marcus Evans of Chicago, calls for a $700 million subsidy to keep the state’s nuclear power-plant fleet operational, as well as provisions to close coal plants in central and southwest Illinois and invest in renewable energy such as wind and solar.

The main difference between the Senate version and the House version affects two coal plants: Springfield’s municipally owned City Water Light & Power and the Prairie State Generating Co. in Marissa, which is 41 miles (65 kilometers) southeast of St. Louis.  The Senate plan called for the plants to be shut down by 2045.  If the bill is approved by the House, it will be sent back to the Senate for consideration of the changes.

Some opponents have questioned the plan’s increase in utility rates, claiming that it could cost ratepayers as much as $15 or more per month.  Evans stated on Thursday that the increase would not exceed $4.50 per month.

However, critics argue that the state is rewarding ComEd despite its admission to federal prosecutors that it engaged in a decade-long bribery scheme in Springfield that implicated former House Speaker Michael Madigan and resulted in the indictment of Madigan’s closest confidante and a former ComEd CEO.

Lawmakers in central and southern Illinois are concerned about the closure of the Springfield and Marissa coal plants.  They are concerned not only about the loss of union jobs, but also about the lack of detail on how their generating capacity will be replaced.


by The Chicago Times Staff

September 7, 2021

SPRINGFIELD, IL —  The Illinois Secretary of State’s office is hoping that the lengthy wait times will soon end.  People who need REAL IDs, driver’s licenses, or ID cards must now make an appointment at one of several suburban facilities beginning Wednesday.

Appointments will now be required in Schaumburg, Bridgeview, Lombard, Des Plaines, Waukegan, Naperville, Aurora, Plano, and Joliet.  These nine locations join seven other facilities in the state that already operate on an appointment-only basis.

However, seniors, people with disabilities, and pregnant women will still be able to walk in without an appointment. 

Appointments can be made up to ten days ahead of time by visiting cyberdriveillinois.com or calling (844) 817-4649.