92 year old World War II veteran Eric Manning is more active than many people 20 years his junior. He loves going to his local RSL and is the sole carer of his wife of 69 years, Veronica.
Eric owes his new lease on life to a transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) he received at St Vincent’s one year ago.
The TAVI procedure, performed at St Vincent’s since 2009, is suitable for older patients suffering from aortic valve stenosis (a narrowing of the aortic valve) for whom traditional open-heart surgery is deemed too risky, but would see improvements in their independence, quality of life and overall heart function if their condition was treated. The procedure involves inserting a new artificial heart valve through a catheter, making it less onerous than surgery.
“Health wise, body wise, I’m feeling better than I was just a year ago. I’m breathing easier and I’m not feeling as tired anymore.”
Christine Wright coordinates the TAVI clinic, where prospective patients receive a comprehensive appraisal from a multidisciplinary team, which includes cardiologists, surgeons, physiotherapists, nurses and geriatricians.
“Finding the right patient is the key to its success. Eric was a suitable candidate for TAVI due to his age, clinical symptoms and the size and severity of his aortic valve narrowing,” Christine says.
A/Prof Rob Whitbourn leads the program and is very happy with the results so far.
We have seen excellent short to medium term outcomes from the program. It has proved to be a safe and effective alternative treatment to surgery, meaning patients such as Eric can keep their independence and quality of life without the risks associated with open heart surgery,’ A/Prof Whitbourn says.
Eric couldn’t agree more. “The way I’m feeling, I reckon I’ll see 100.”