Gloria Barrett’s life was restored on January 6 through a complex redo-trans catheter aortic valve replacement, or redo-TAVR. The procedure was the first of its kind for the cardiology team at Loma Linda University Medical Center – Murrieta (LLUMC – Murrieta), and the team overcame every risk with great success.
“We were glad for the opportunity to improve the quality of life for Mrs. Barrett,” says Harit Desai, MD, the associate director for the cardiac catheterization lab and structural heart intervention program at LLUMC – Murrieta. “It was very challenging to successfully treat a failing TAVR valve with this minimally-invasive procedure without the complications of more invasive surgical approaches.”
Barrett, a 76-year-old grandmother, experienced an immediate change in her life. Barrett says she was “tickled to death” to go home the next day feeling well. Now, she completes household chores and other day-to-day activity without fear.
“I'm not worried about dying, and I feel a lot better,” she says. “I feel like a new person. I want to get up and run.”
In September 2016, Barrett underwent a standard TAVR procedure, but the valve stopped working after five years. Desai says the valve wasn’t opening enough, and her heart was working harder to get blood through the valve and to the rest of the body.
Barrett enjoys an active lifestyle, but the defective valve required her to walk very slowly and to be driven to the grocery store and back. She suffered shortness of breath during daily activities, and her son and his wife were helping her out a lot.
Barrett did not qualify for open heart surgery but had one option remaining: the high-risk redo-TAVR procedure to fit a new valve into the old replacement. Desai says the operation would be extra challenging due to the proximity of Barret’s left and right coronary arteries with the valve, which would require precise placement of the stents to prevent a heart attack or cardiac arrest during the procedure. Even maneuvering the valve up to her heart would be difficult due to the calcium buildups inside her arteries. Because of the life-threatening risks of the procedure, her case was put on hold for a few months. Barrett recalls the doctor’s devotion to keeping on contact with her and monitoring her health.
“Dr. Desai was very honest with me, and I was very honest with him,” Barrett says. “I had to take better care of myself and take it easy, and that's what I did because I wanted to live.”
Barrett waited several months until the shortness of breath became severe enough to warrant an emergency room visit. At that point, she didn’t want to wait any longer.
Despite the risks, Barrett says she was ready to move forward — her faith in God gave her courage for the upcoming procedure, her family rallied around and each of her doctors was involved with her care.
The experienced team of physicians, nurses, and technicians have completed over 600 life-saving structural interventional procedures since program’s inception in 2019. Led by Dr. Desai, the team placed a new TAVR valve inside her old failing TAVR valve through a small incision in her leg artery leading to her heart. The new valve was placed while her heart was still beating. Barrett was able to leave the hospital the following day.
“Everyone in the team wanted the best outcome for her,” Desai says. “She has a very positive attitude toward life, and she now enjoys life to the fullest.”
Now, only a few weeks into recovery since her surgery, Barrett is looking forward to once again being able to walk fast and to travel to visit her loved ones. She expressed her appreciation to her team at LLUMC – Murrieta for taking on her complicated case and for their attentive care.
“They were wonderful,” Barrett says. “Everybody at Loma Linda was just absolutely wonderful. On a scale of one to ten, they were ten.”
More information about cardiac care and the services available at LLUMC – Murrieta is available online.