Franciscan Health Crown Point offering minimally invasive heart valve replacement

Franciscan Health Crown Point offering minimally invasive heart valve replacement

Crown Point woman says TAVR procedure gave her new life

Franciscan Health Crown Point is now offering patients with aortic valve stenosis a minimally invasive valve replacement procedure that speeds recovery time.

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a minimally invasive treatment for aortic valve stenosis, a narrowing of the aortic valve which blocks the flow of blood to the body, requiring the heart to work harder.

Deanna Frank, 74, of Crown Point was the first patient to undergo the TAVR procedure at Franciscan Health Crown Point earlier this year. Frank said she started having trouble breathing nearly four years ago.

“I couldn’t breathe or walk more than 50 feet before I had to sit down,” Frank said. “I’d get up in the morning, walk into the living room and have to sit so I could breathe.”

She said she felt like her life was put on hold because of her breathing problems. She went to multiple doctors to try to determine the cause and by the time she was referred earlier this year to cardiothoracic surgeon J. Michael Tuchek, DO, FACS, she said she was, “about ready to throw in the towel.”

“I really felt like my purpose had ended,” she said.

Dr. Tuchek diagnosed Frank with severe aortic stenosis and scheduled her for surgery at Franciscan Health Crown Point. During the procedure, Dr. Tuchek placed an artificial valve inside the diseased valve using a catheter without the need for opening the chest or use of a heart/lung machine, all while allowing the heart to continue to beat.

The TAVR procedure has a faster recovery time and decreases the length of the hospital stay, with many patients going home the following day. It also results in smaller, less noticeable scars, helps reduce blood loss, lowers the risk of infection and lessens post-operative pain.

“The next day, I was sitting up straight in bed at the hospital and I said, ‘I can breathe,’” Frank said. “A nurse came in and asked me if I’d like to go for a walk in the hall with him. It was the day after my surgery and I walked over 700 feet without stopping. I hadn’t done that in three and a half years.”

While transcatheter aortic valve replacement or TAVR is new to Franciscan Health Crown Point, it is not new to Dr. Tuchek, who was involved in the original FDA trials for TAVR, teaches how to perform the procedure and serves as a U.S. proctor on the subject. He was also the first in Illinois and among the first in the U.S. to perform the procedure.

“I’ve seen firsthand the patient benefits of this procedure and I am excited to be able to bring this option to our patients at Franciscan Health Crown Point,” Dr. Tuchek said. “Patients and their families can have added peace of mind knowing their surgeon has extensive experience with the TAVR procedure.”

Frank said she is looking forward to playing with her grandkids, walking and participating in social gatherings again as a result of her surgery. She was so happy with the outcome of her surgery, she had a t-shirt made with “Ask Me About TAVR” on the front and “In the care of Dr. J. Michael Tuchek” on the back.

“I’m literally going to be a walking billboard for this TAVR procedure,” she said. “Words can never begin to express how thankful I am to Dr. Tuchek and Franciscan for giving me my life back.”

To request an appointment for a consultation, contact Franciscan Health Heart Center Crown Point at (219) 488-1508.