Myra Gaines had an eventful summer.
In early August, she turned 87.
A couple weeks before that, the Kennewick woman became the first person ever to undergo a new kind of heart valve procedure.
The surgery, done at University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle, was a success.
Gaines has more energy now — a new bounce in her step.
“I’m feeling really well. Much better than I did before,” she said.
The new procedure is called the BASILICA valve-in-valve procedure. It was performed by Dr. Danny Dvir of the University of Washington, with assistance from Drs. Mark Reisman, Gabriel Aldea and Burkhard Mackensen. Physician scientists from the National Institutes of Health in Maryland and Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit provided guidance.
Gaines had an artificial heart valve implanted about six years ago, and it was degenerating and starting to leak.
Traditional open heart surgery would have been too much.
In some cases, doctors are able to place a new valve inside the old one using a much less invasive method involving catheters, or thin tubes threaded through the blood vessels. But Gaines wasn’t a candidate for that because of her heart’s anatomy — there essentially wasn’t enough room.
So instead, Dvir and his team used a catheter to make a cut to the original valve before placing the new one — a new technique.
“It feels like the start of a new era. We’re going beyond implanting equipment through tubes. We are doing minimally invasive surgery, cutting inside the body, via catheter,” Dvir told UW’s HSNewsBeat.
The procedure was especially complicated because doctors couldn’t see directly inside Gaines’ heart and instead had to rely on imaging scans to guide them.
To read a more detailed account by UW, go to tinyurl.com/myraheartuw. The hospital also produced a video, available on UW Medicine’s YouTube channel.
Dvir said the innovation shows that “we are not in stagnation. We are always trying to innovate in order to improve patients’ outcomes, improve symptoms and save lives.”
He was pleased with the procedure’s success — and with Gaines’ successful recovery.
Gaines and her family are pleased, too.
Before the procedure, the 87-year-old suffered serious fatigue.
“Even if we just went to the store, she’d be so tired she had to come home and take a nap. Short little jaunts would wear her out,” said daughter Kim Lee.
But now she’s up doing chores, back to her old self.
Gaines said she knew when she met Dvir that she was in good hands. She’s grateful to him.