From left, Dr. Natesh Lingam, Dr. Raed Alnajjar, Dr. Samer Kazziha, Dr. William O’Neill and Dr. Subhi Sbahi played pivotal roles in Henry Ford Macomb Hospital’s first-ever transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR, procedures that were performed Aug. 7.

From left, Dr. Natesh Lingam, Dr. Raed Alnajjar, Dr. Samer Kazziha, Dr. William O’Neill and Dr. Subhi Sbahi played pivotal roles in Henry Ford Macomb Hospital’s first-ever transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR, procedures that were performed Aug. 7.

Photo provided by Henry Ford Macomb Hospital


Unique heart valve procedure comes to Macomb County

By: Nick Mordowanec | C&G Newspapers | Published August 20, 2019

 TAVR patient Carole Wesner, of Shelby Township, meets with Dr. Alnajjar before her procedure.

TAVR patient Carole Wesner, of Shelby Township, meets with Dr. Alnajjar before her procedure.

Photo provided by Henry Ford Macomb Hospital

 Christine Gilbert, of Mount Clemens, is given details prior to her own procedure.

Christine Gilbert, of Mount Clemens, is given details prior to her own procedure.

Photo provided by Henry Ford Macomb Hospital

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CLINTON TOWNSHIP — On Aug. 7, doctors at Henry Ford Macomb Hospital in Clinton Township performed the first two catheter-based replacements of aortic heart valves.

The procedures were conducted as a part of Henry Ford Health System’s continued expansion of the transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR, program.

“This minimally invasive, revolutionary procedure to replace a defective heart valve without open-heart surgery brings new hope for people with advanced heart disease,” said interventional cardiologist Dr. Samer Kazziha, chief of cardiovascular services at Henry Ford Macomb Hospital.

Two Macomb County women were selected to be the recipients of TAVR: Christine Gilbert, 87, of Mount Clemens, and Carole Wesner, 82, of Shelby Township.

Henry Ford Health System’s Director of Structural Heart Disease Dr. William O’Neill and Henry Ford Macomb Hospital’s Director of Cardiothoracic Surgery Services Dr. Raed Alnajjar led both TAVR procedures. Kazziha and interventional cardiologist Dr. Subhi Sbahi aided the pair during Gilbert’s procedure, while interventional cardiologists Dr. Natesh Lingam and Dr. Luay Sayed aided Wesner’s TAVR. Dr. Merajuddin Khan led the anesthesiology team for both procedures.

The women, both of whom were diagnosed with aortic stenosis, were released from the hospital just one day after the procedure was complete.

“TAVR is easier on the patient, allows for quicker recovery and, ultimately, can improve the patient’s quality of life,” Alnajjar said.

The procedure itself is nothing new to O’Neill, however. Since O’Neill performed his first TAVR in the United States in 2005, and since 2012, more than 1,500 TAVR procedures have taken place within the Henry Ford Center for Structural Heart Disease.

TAVR has come to the county after a new program was added at a Henry Ford hospital in Jackson, Michigan, where specially trained, multidisciplinary teams train for months to prepare. The specialized program at the Clinton Township location offers balloon valvuloplasty, where balloons are used to loosen buildup on stiff heart valves.

“We’re pleased to offer TAVR at Henry Ford Macomb Hospital after seeing so many patients feel so much better after their TAVRs at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit,” O’Neill said. “We’ve also treated many people with TAVR who have been turned away elsewhere — with fantastic results.”

The experiences of the two patients have been satisfactory to date. Since visiting urgent care in May for what she first thought was indigestion, Gilbert’s EKG revealed she was having a heart attack, leading to a stent put in that day, with a balloon valvuloplasty conducted in June.

Now that her shortness of breath is “gone,” she has more energy and can better climb stairs. The retired Macomb Intermediate School District bus driver is showing anticipation toward returning to her normal routine: quilting, scouring garage sales, tending her garden and walking her dog.

Wesner aims to return to her old ways too, which include yoga and meeting with her friends for breakfast.

“I had an easier time walking this morning, and I don’t get the ‘fluttery’ feeling in my chest that I did before the procedure,” Wesner said about a day after her TAVR. “It has been really awesome. Every single person is so caring, professional and gifted.”

To learn more about TAVR, visit henryford.com/structuralheart.

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