New Surgery Helps Most Frail Heart Patients

Cardiology: TAVR

Port Charlotte resident Ronald Rousse, 79, knew he had health problems: a quadruple bypass 18 years ago, diabetes, failing kidneys, blockage in his leg and shortness of breath.

When the commute from his chair in the living room to the kitchen a few steps away took away his breath, he knew he needed to seek medical help. His primary care physician recommended a Tampa surgeon, who wanted to perform open heart surgery for aortic stenosis. Ronald needed a valve replacement. Without it, he only had about 18 months to live. But Ronald wanted to know if there were other options. His physician then sent him to cardiothoracic surgeon, Brian Hummel, M.D., for a new procedure that is less stressful on his heart.

I had never heard of the transapical TAVR (transcatheter aortic valve replacement), Ronald says. But I was willing to try anything because without it I knew I wouldn t live. When you know that, you ll try anything.

The procedure involved an incision in Ronald s left chest, just beneath the breast. Other TAVR procedures begin in the groin area, an option that was not available to Ronald because of the blockage in his leg.

This particular TAVR procedure causes less stress on the patient, Dr. Hummel says. It s a great option for patients who are not a candidate for normal heart procedures. I knew Ronald could benefit from this surgery.

Ronald spent 12 days at HealthPark Medical Center following the surgery, and admits that he felt worse before he felt better. He was the first patient to undergo the procedure at Lee Memorial Health System, the only area hospital system that offers the procedure. I had about three years of not feeling good, so a few days to recover were worth it, Ronald says.

Dr. Hummel notes that the surgery is for the most vulnerable patients, and that it s not without risk. Not everyone survives this type of surgery, Dr. Hummel says. But it gives hope to patients who have no other options, and for most, it adds quality years to their lives.

Ronald has already experienced a dramatic improvement in his daily routine. He has started walking, goes out to dinner and plans to play golf on the course that adjoins his backyard.

Things are looking up, he says. There s no doubt in my mind I did the right thing.

Dr. Hummel and his team expect to perform as many as 100 similar procedures this year. We are confident that we can help patients get back to doing the things they want, he says.

For more information on TAVR, please call the Structural Heart Program at 239-343-8836 or email


“"I had never heard of the transapical TAVR (transcatheter aortic valve replacement). But I was willing to try anything because without it I knew I wouldn t live. When you know that, you ll try anything,” Ronald says.”

Learn more about the TAVR procedure

    6 p.m., Feb. 26, 2013
  • Bonita Springs Chamber of Commerce
  • 25071 Chamber of Commerce Drive
  • Bonita Springs, FL 34135
  • RSVP: 239-454-8762

  • Brian Hummel, M.D., cardiothoracic surgeon
  • Murali Muppala, M.D., cardiologist
  • Steven Priest, M.D., cardiologist

American Health Journal - TAVR Aortic Valve Replacement


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