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WASHINGTON _ Surgeons will replace a leaky valve in Sen. Jesse Helms' heart at a Virginia hospital Thursday morning.
In a brief statement from his office late Wednesday, Helms' chief of staff Jimmy Broughton said a valve on the senator's heart _ a pig valve implanted 10 years ago _ had failed and must be replaced.
On Wednesday, Helms, 80, underwent tests that revealed the arteries around his heart are healthy and free-flowing.
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Bertram Coffer, a Raleigh, N.C., surgeon and close Helms family friend who is monitoring the situation, says he's optimistic.
"I feel much better today," he said after …