Five years ago, doctors gave Dorothy Perry a grim prognosis: A life expectancy of six to eight months caused by the narrowing in her aortic valve.
Out of breath and barely able to walk to the front door of her Wichita home, Dorothy was too ill for traditional open-heart surgery.
Fortunately, the structural heart team at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis offered her an alternative to slowly watching her life slip away: A less invasive procedure called trans-catheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR.
In May 2015, Dorothy became one of the first 100 patients to have the procedure in St. Francis' new hybrid OR, designed specifically for emerging structural heart procedures like TAVR.
Soon, she was back to her formerly active life, shopping and going out to eat with family and friends. To celebrate the one-year anniversary of her aortic valve replacement, she traveled with her family to Branson, Missouri, where she walked for miles taking in the sights at Silver Dollar City.
Dorothy recently celebrated her 84th birthday and today continues to enjoy life with her four grown children, 11 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren.
"I have an active role in all of their lives," says Dorothy, who now lives in Oklahoma close to her daughter Teresa Clough, son-in-law Jim and other family, including her youngest great-grandchild, who will soon turn 3. "I wouldn't even be around to know some of them if it hadn't been for TAVR and the team at St. Francis."
Continued growth and options
Initially, TAVR therapy was only FDA-approved for patients who, like Dorothy, were at high-risk for open-heart surgery.
But in August 2016, the FDA expanded the use of the TAVR therapy to more patients suffering from aortic stenosis. This allowed Via Christi’s Structural Heart team, led by structural heart specialist Bassem Chehab, MD, and cardio thoracic surgeon Brent Grizzell, MD, with Wichita Surgical Specialists, to make TAVR available to patients deemed at intermediate or moderate risk for open-heart surgery.
Today, successful clinical trials in low-risk surgical patients have led to TAVR becoming the standard of care for most patients in need of aortic valve replacement.
Additionally, TAVR is only one of the approximately 1,500 advanced minimally invasive heart procedures that have been performed by the structural heart team at St. Francis since performing its first TAVR in October 2013.
"We, and the patients and families we serve from throughout Kansas, are blessed to have such an exceptional team and program with access to the advanced technology and specialized facilities needed to offer these emerging new therapies," says Kevin Strecker, St. Francis hospital president and chief operating officer. "Mrs. Perry and the memories she continues to create with her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren are a living testament to the work of this team."