Dorothy Semon, 81, lived her life as a very active person. A former wedding coordinator, she loves being with people, working, and traveling. But things started slowing down when her aortic heart valve failed, causing shortness of breath and fatigue. After three years it worsened to the point that she could no longer walk short distances. "I couldn't even walk from my front door to the mailbox without getting out of breath," she recalled.
As a senior patient, Dorothy was not a candidate for open heart surgery, which would have required anesthesia for several hours with a lengthy and potentially challenging recovery.
She was referred to Baylor St Luke's Medical Center in Houston and the care of Interventional Cardiologist Neil E. Strickman, MD, FACC, FSCAI, FACP, who recommended a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) using a new valve coated with “Resilia” a product that has been proven to retard calcification of the leaflets of the valve as well as decrease degeneration of this bioprosthetic heart valve.
Dorothy is the first patient in Houston and CommonSpirit Health to receive the new technology. And, it was implanted into Dorothy’s heart without major surgery.
The procedure took only an hour and Dorothy immediately felt better. "I was no longer out of breath. All my vitals were good."
Dorothy said the procedure was so minimally invasive that she can't even find the scar anymore. "I stayed one night in the hospital and they asked me to stay in the area for the next night then we got on the road and drove five hours back to our home in Shreveport, Louisiana. It was unbelievable,” she said.
Dorothy is on a course of pulmonary therapy and is feeling better every day. She stopped using a walking cane just weeks after the procedure.
Dorothy’s successful procedure should be encouraging to others with aortic valve conditions. “As we move forward with new technology we will be able to offer the best valve product available to high surgical-risk patients to increase not only their quality of life but also their longevity,” Dr. Strickman said. The new device will help younger patients who can feel comfortable that their first-time valve will last for years, patients whose old valve has worn out and patients with end-stage renal disease that are on dialysis who tend to experience calcifications more quickly.
Dr. Strickman says Dorothy’s prognosis with this new coated valve is “really good, She has a new lease on life. It's a chance to live longer with less complications.”
Dorothy is walking longer distances now and she is looking forward to the day when she can work in her garden. She and her husband, Phillip, are looking forward to visiting with family who live out of state. "I'm excited to have her breathing back to being normal instead of laboring,” Phillip says. “We're real pleased with Baylor St. Luke’s, the procedure, and the outcome."