Thanks to a life-changing device, Maritimers with leaky heart values are now able to get them fixed without open-heart surgery.

Two successful procedures have been performed at the New Brunswick Heart Centre at the Saint John Regional Hospital.

Patient John Peacock says he used to have trouble even walking down the hospital hallway.  

“I used to walk maybe five minutes on a treadmill and be out of breath,” he says.

Now, a week after the procedure Peacock says he is able to walk at ease thanks to a tiny device called a 'mitraclip.'

Dr. Sohrab Lutchmedial says the device is similar to an old fashioned clothespin.

“If you had two sheets billowing in the wind, you're actually trying those sheets with this clothes pin and hold them together,” he says.

Dr. Lutchmedial says in order for the procedure to work the mitraclip grabs tissue from the heart valve to keep it from leaking into the lungs.

The device has been studied across the world and successfully used in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and now New Brunswick.

Peacock is one of only two patients in Atlantic Canada to have recieved the procedure.

"It was suggested by my cardiologist and at the time he thought it was one of the best alternatives because I would not be a candidate for open-heart surgery,” Peacock says.

The less invasive procedure is designed for patients who simply can't risk full blown open-heart surgery.

Doctors predict only a small number will be eligible each year. Dr. Lutchmedial says they’re currently looking at 10-12 patients in New Brunswick per year.

“Which is not a huge number, but the bottom line is for those patients it makes a huge difference in their life,” he says.

Open-heart surgery patients are typically hospitalized for weeks, but Peacock was released from hospital the day after his procedure.

Peacock says the transformative treatment has given him a whole new appreciation for technology and the team at New Brunswick’s Heart Centre.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mary Cranston.