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Front Page » June 18, 2009 » Carbon County News » Local Woman Receives Heart Valve as Part of Revolutionary...
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Local Woman Receives Heart Valve as Part of Revolutionary Procedure


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May 15th, 2009 was a day in the life of 87 year old Rose Felice of Helper, Utah and her family that will never be forgotten. In fact it was on this day that a remarkable, unprecedented gift was to be bestowed upon Rose, which in return would bless the lives of her family and all that know her. Rose was given a second chance to live, not to just exist, but to have an increased quality of life that has empowered her to love life and continue to share that love with those she comes into contact with.

Rose states, "Just a couple of years ago, I was told by my cardiologist that my Aortic Stenosis (or diseased aortic valve) was severe enough that I only had a short time to live. This was confirmed by two other cardiologists. She adds, "I went home devastated knowing my life was coming to an end." Rose and her family were told that the open heart surgery was not an option. Her frail, weak body could not endure the strain of open heart surgery. Only several months ago, Rose could scarcely chew her food without exhaustion, let alone walk and talk and do many basic things that many of us take for granted. Later, Roses's Cardiologist had a colleague that was preparing and ready to introduce this first of its kind procedure.

Rose's daughter, Delores Slavensky , states, "We were thrilled that my mother was chosen for the study and was a successful candidate for the ground-breaking procedure." Rose completed multiple trips to Salt Lake for numerous procedural tests and education regarding the coarse of action that would soon transform her life. Rose is the first person to undergo this procedure in the entire Intermountain Region. Out of the 300 participants involved in the Utah study, not all will receive the exact same treatment that Rose received, due to random selection.

Rose is quick to state that she has the best family around. Rose states, "I have a daughter in Salt Lake City, which helped Delores greatly and leaned on each other for support. All, not one or two, but all my children did the almost impossible in today's hectic world. They all stayed the whole 17 days of my recovery period. Some rented motels, but they were still at the hospital the whole time."

The Placement of Aortic Transcatheter Valve (PARTNER) was the ideal remedy for Rose, the first patient in the Intermountain West to have a this type of heart valve replacement without having to undergo open heart surgery, the usual method for valve replacement. In the conventional procedure, the patient's chest is opened, the heart stopped, while a heart bypass machine compensates and continues to circulate blood throughout the body until the valve is replaced. The procedure typically would take 3-5 hours. With the new procedure, taking about an hour, the catheter was threaded up through the femoral artery to its precise position, deployed and anchored into place over the old valve. The new valve is stainless steel with leaflets that simulate a healthy valve that directs blood flow one way only. Rose's procedure, made an instant improvement— "I could breath again, it was a miracle!"

The procedure was successfully completed at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah. A team of 35 doctors, nurses, and skilled surgical staff participated in the procedure. I.M.C. is one of 25 centers in North America and Europe (and the only Utah Hospital) participating in this study treating more than 1,000 heart valve patients. Dr. Brian Whisenant acted as lead surgeon, while multiple other surgeons and physicians contributed greatly. Dr. Horton stated, "This has been hands down the most exciting day of my career." The new technique requires a facility to link cardiac catheterization and open chest surgery. Surgeons also concluded that she would have likely faced weeks of recovery in an intensive care unit, which would have made her higher risk for post-op bleeding and infection. IMC is one of 25 centers throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe to offer this procedure.

Rose and her family want to share her story to educate others about this upcoming procedure, that will, in no doubt, enhance the quality of lives for millions. The new procedure is still awaiting U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval. There are three parts to the clinical study: 1. Best medical management, 2. Open chest Aortic valve replacement, 3. Transfemoral artery replacement — the procedure that was used on Rose. The new procedure also reduces the cost to replace the diseased valve. Aortic stenosis affects over two million people nationwide.

Rose states, " I owe it all to my loving family and those who care for me." Rose is amazed that her procedure was not painful, something she was concerned about. Rose laughs an infectious grandma laugh when she says. "I have only changed one thing in my diet- from butter to Promise Spread. I figure at 87, I have the right to eat whatever I want to." She alludes to the fact, "my doctor gave me a lifetime guarantee on the new, beautiful accessory that is saving my life."

Rose chose Community Nursing Services for her care at home, post-hospitalization, because she had previously been a patient, and knew of the high caliber and quality of care that Community Nursing Services Home Health and Hospice provides. Rose states, "the staff at CNS has enabled me to be as independent as I can be at home, and that is all that I really want."

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