Celebrating With Patients

Bill Fenton, TAVR

Bill Fenton, TAVR patient, and his wife, Gayle, look forward to time with their growing family of grandchildren and great grandchildren. Since he was age 45, Bill Fenton’s doctors were aware he had a “heart murmur,” a congenital condition that caused his heart sound to go “woosh,” instead of “lub dub.” After age 60, his doctor started monitoring his condition with echocardiograms. A certified public accountant who splits his residences between Massachusetts and Tucson, Bill asked his friend  Barry Pomerantz, MD, (a retired physician and Sarver Heart Center board member), who he should see for ECHOs in Tucson. Since Bill is an avid bicyclist, it made sense that Dr. Pomerantz would refer him to Charles Katzenberg, MD, another avid cyclist who has since retired.

Now, Bill’s cardiologist is Tushar Acharya, MD, MPH, a cardiovascular imaging expert who is part of the Structural Heart team. This past summer, Dr. Acharya informed Bill that his aortic valve was closed. “I just rode my bike 50 miles. How could this be?” Bill asked. In evaluating Bill for a minimally invasive valve replacement procedure (TAVR) versus open heart surgery, the Structural Heart team discovered Bill had a tumor on a kidney. “This made me a candidate for TAVR. I had two surgeries in 26 days – TAVR at the end of July and kidney removal at the end of August. Fortunately, the cancer was removed and I’m back to my normal activities,” said Bill who will turn 71 soon. He averages 400 miles a month on his bicycle and is tracking 4,000 miles for the year despite his rough stretch during the summer.

These sudden health alarms reminded Bill to not take anything for granted. “Don’t buy green bananas. You don’t know if you’ll be around for them to ripen,” said Bill, although he continues to ride on.

Dana McCune, MitraClip

Dana McCune, MitraClip patient at Banner - University Medical Center Tucson Like too many women, Dana McCune wasn’t feeling great, but she left work midday in 2019 to meet her husband for his cardiology appointment. When she mentioned to the doctor that she didn’t feel well and asked him to listen to her heart, he told her to check in at the front desk to register as a new patient. Instead she went home with her husband. “I took a nap and around 7 p.m. had difficulty breathing. My husband drove me to St. Joseph’s, the closest hospital. I coded when he pulled up to the emergency entrance,” said Dana. She was in cardiac arrest.

Fortunately, her husband flagged emergency responders who worked to resuscitate her. Unable to determine the cause of her heart attack, she was transferred to Banner – University Medical Center Tucson for a cardiac MRI. Stress was the likely cause. Dana also has a complicated health history that included Hodgkins Disease, age 27, that involved radiation therapy, breast cancer that led to a double mastectomy, and now, polycystic kidney and liver disease.

“I was hoping to get on the kidney transplant list to treat this inherited condition,” said Dana. However, a year after her heart attack, the Structural Heart Team detected her mitral valve was leaking and she was a candidate for the MitraClip procedure, implanted by Dr. Arka Chatterjee. She spent a night in the hospital and now is breathing easier since her mitral valve leak has been reduced from severe to minimal. “I also have pulmonary edema. Between a CPAP machine for sleeping and the medical management of my heart condition, I’m hoping to talk to my doctor about getting on the kidney transplant list now,” said Dana.

“I’m so happy with the care I received, particularly from Allison Klatt (MSN, FNP). She’s awesome and so responsive. She answered all of my questions.”

Robert Hunt, TAVR 

Robert and Inge Hunt

Best wishes to Robert and Inge Hunt as they celebrate a very happy 66th anniversary together. They both are doing very well following his TAVR (transcatheter aortic valve replacement) procedure in March 2020. They wrote: "MANY grateful family members want to thank you and your amazing surgeons for the miracle of extended life TAVR provides. TAVR TEAM Rocks!" At age 92, Robert was diagnosed with severe aortic stenosis, making him a TAVR candidate. Since the procedure, he also marked his 93rd birthday. Sending wishes for many more!