Posts Tagged ‘open heart surgery’

Real Patients, Real Stories: Emory Provides Less-Invasive Lifesaving Heart Surgery Option for 95 Year Old

Feeling lightheaded at his home in South Carolina, Ed Iler, 95, was rushed by paramedics to the nearest hospital emergency room. He complained of chest pain and was told by his doctor he had a heart murmur.

“I’m 95 years of age and I have never been told that before,” said Iler, an active member of his community who enjoys gardening, hiking and spending time with family and friends.

The following week, he was experiencing more chest discomfort and shortness of breath. He was rushed to the hospital where they discovered a leaky mitral valve. This meant the mitral valve of the heart wasn’t closing properly. The abnormal blood flow signals the heart to pump harder, which causes stress on the body.

Although the examining cardiologist in South Carolina felt he was strong and healthy enough to have surgery, he was concerned that open heart surgery might be too much for a patient his age.

“We have one possible option,” said the doctor, “and that’s to reach out to the Emory Structural Heart & Valve Center in Atlanta to do a MitraClip® procedure—a less invasive alternative.”

Iler’s daughter, Pat Krzak, said, “Let’s do it!” She worked with John Cebe, MD, the cardiologist in South Carolina, who tirelessly worked for days arranging the details with Emory’s Patient-Centered Care team to get the necessary approvals.

“When Mr. Iler arrived at Emory, he was extremely ill due to his mitral valve disease. It was clear that he needed to have his valve fixed in order for him to survive hospitalization,” said Robbie Williams, MD. “We agreed that he was too frail to undergo traditional valve repair surgery and that he was a good candidate for the MitraClip® procedure.”

Iler is very thankful he had the mitral heart valve replacement, a lifesaving procedure that was done without traditional open heart surgery. “Dr. Vasilis Babaliaros and his team with Emory Structural Heart & Valve Center made me feel like the impossible was possible again. They saved my life.”

The surgery went so well, Iler went straight to the cardiac telemetry unit instead of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). The day after surgery, he was smiling, joking and talking with his nurses. The doctor told Iler if he could walk 100 yards, he would release him from the hospital. The following day, Iler went home and told his clinical team he was eager to return to South Carolina. He wanted to resume his gardening and normal activities as soon as possible.

Until recently, many older patients may not have been able to have surgery due to risk related to age. Now, with minimally invasive techniques, age is less of a barrier and doctors can give people of advanced age an opportunity for a new lease on life, and a better quality of life.

Having the MitraClip® procedure allowed Iler the opportunity to continue his independent and active lifestyle with the support and love of his family and friends. He was able to celebrate his 100th birthday this past year and even invited his Emory care team to attend his birthday party. He is so thankful for the compassionate care he received at Emory Structural Heart & Valve Center.

“Emory’s doctors and their staff have been a true blessing to our family,” agrees Krzak. “Because of ‘Dr. B’ and his medical team, my father is alive today.”

To schedule an appointment with Emory Structural Heart & Valve Center call us at 404-778-7777.

Emory Saved My Life: One Patient’s Journey

kristen-leone250x250I was born with Congenital Heart Disease. The first four years of my life were spent in and out of hospitals, and the first two took an incredible toll on my family, particularly my mother. In 1976, at just two years of age, I became the first baby ever to survive open heart surgery. Little did I know that nearly 38 years later I would be fighting for my survival again; this is the story of how Emory saved my life.

It all started back in February, 2013. I woke up one morning coughing and feeling incredibly fatigued, and my symptoms continued to progress over the course of the next few months. By May, things had gotten much worse, to the point that getting up the stairs became a battle. I was having a normal lunch with my mother on July 6th of that year, and as we went to leave my heart suddenly began to race faster than I’ve ever felt before. I immediately knew something was seriously wrong.

I was rushed to the Emergency Room, my heart beating at 221 beats per minute. I spent the next two nights in the Cardiac Care Unit, until Monday, July 8th, when I was transferred to Emory University Hospital. When I got to Emory, I had two teams of cardiologists working on my situation, which was growing more dire by the moment. I was dealing with a bad lung infection, my complete blood count was down, and my heart and kidneys were beginning to shut down, leaving me completely hopeless.

I panicked. The realization that I may die hit me like a freight train. I yelled, cried and had a full-blown meltdown right there in the hospital. I was so frightened of what may come next. My doctor, realizing how scared and embarrassed I was, leaned over and told me, “It’s understandable, Kristin. You are allowed to feel what you’re feeling. Just know that you’re in safe hands now and we’re working on your case 24/7.” I’ve been in so many hospitals throughout my life, but at that moment I knew I was in the best possible place for me.

My doctors at Emory told me I had to have an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD), or “pacemaker” installed, and that without it my survival rate would be around seven percent. I was overjoyed to learn there was a solution to my problem. With my family by my side, I went through the surgery and was ready to endure the long hospital stay to get better.

My surgery was a success. I’d spend the next couple of weeks at the hospital recovering from my lung issues and getting healthy enough to retake control of my life.

My experience over those next weeks at Emory was eye opening. Aside from the top-notch medical service, the treatment my family and I received was incredible. We were kept informed of every decision that was being made, the doctors outlined a clear vision for my path to recovery, and they went above and beyond in their commitment to my comfort and health. In one instance, my doctor refused to go home for the night, staying at the hospital and checking on me every hour to make sure I was doing well.

When my family had questions they were answered immediately, and they were permitted to stay by my side throughout the lengthy recovery process. The entire staff, from the doctors all the way down to the custodians, was the friendliest group of people I’ve ever encountered in any hospital. I truly couldn’t have asked for a better place to get well.

I’m now almost two months removed from what I thought was certain death, and I’m so thankful to Emory for saving my life. Their compassion, love and patient care is something that I’m reminded of every day when I wake up and look in the mirror, because were it not for them I wouldn’t be here today.