Published on December 21, 2012

St. Vincent's Hospital in Jacksonville helps patients with new heart


Written by Jeannie Blaylock, First Coast News


Open heart surgery has saved a lot of lives, but what if a person is too sick or frail to go through the surgery? How can he or she get a new heart valve in a case of aortic valve stenosis?

St. Vincent's Medical Center in Jacksonville has a procedure available that's already been used in Europe for five years and is FDA-approved in the U.S. It has cardiologists at the hospital excited.

Dr. Samer Garas, an interventional cardiologist, said the Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) procedure is a huge plus for the First Coast. St. Vincent's is the only hospital locally to have TAVR. Thirteen other hospitals in Florida also have TAVR, according to St. Vincent's.

TAVR, basically, is open heart surgery without opening the heart.

One of the first patients in Jacksonville is Lois Seibler, an 89-year-old woman who was so short of breath she could barely walk 10 to 15 feet, according to her son.

Dr. Garas said statistically, in a case like Lois', the patient's health is so weak that death often happens within two years if the valve issue is not corrected. However, the patients aren't strong enough for surgery.

TAVR is the solution, he said, to help folks in that tricky situation.

Seibler said the procedure worked so well for her that she was out walking and driving a car two days after she was released from the hospital.


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