University Hospital has new innovation heart procedure

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Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014

(WRDW)- "I do everything myself," said Mary Tolbert a TAVR patient.

94-year-old Mary Tolbert is back to her old self, cooking meals, sewing, and doing her regular day to day activities. A little over a year ago she was not the same.

"I think she was pretty much in her last stage because she couldnt breathe and it was hard for her to walk from one area to another," said Tolbert's daughter Inez Smith.

She was a candidate for a new heart valve replacement surgery which is meant for elderly or frail people that wouldn't have the stammina to withstand regular open heart surgery.

"We're able to take this large group of people who were basically given a death sentence and we're able to give them life again," said Dr. Les Walters.

The less invasive procedure inserts a new valve through a needle stick either through the leg or from the top of the chest.

"As the valve gets tighter and tighter there's not enough flow to the rest of the body and patients get more and more fatigued, they get chest pain, and black out spells," said Dr. Walters.

Doctors at University Hospital say it's changed the way they view heart valves and treat patients.

"This is hand sewn and hand constructed and this will open and shut 100 times a day, and it works immediately as soon as we place it it works right away," said Dr. Walters.

The new technology has 100 percent success rate
with little down time.

"In the morning you could have it done and by noon you could be up and about and eating lunch," said Dr. Kraig Wangsnes.

It's even changed the way physicians work together. Now surgeons and cardiologist collaborate as a team. Doctors say this is only the tip of the iceberg.

"Replacing valves, and you know fixing electrical activity in the heart so nothing seems to be out of the reach of innovation," said Dr. Wangsnes.

University Hospital is the only place that offers the TAVR procedure in Augusta. Out of the 250 centers in North America that offer this only 5 percent have had 100 percent procedural success rate and University Hospital is on that list.