New heart fix without surgery

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE TV)- Aortic Stenosis is one of the most common heart problems in the country plaguing a half million people a year.  The typical fix is open heart surgery, but thousands are too sick to survive the procedure.  For that reason, a new option is now available and Jewish Hospital is the first in the state to offer the groundbreaking procedure.

It's called TARV and is right on time for 47 year old Scott Barron.
Barron was recently taken off the liver transplant list, when doctors determined his heart was too sick to survive the transplant.  He had a condition known as aortic stenosis.  The valve that prevents blood from flowing back into the heart had calcified.  

Because of Scott's liver condition and a previous heart surgery, he wasn't a candidate for open heart surgery, so he became the first to undergo a transcatheter aortic valve replacement on December 21st at Jewish Hospital.

"Stepped in the right place at the right time" Barron said.  

Barron is one of up to 30,000 people a year with aortic stenosis with risk factors that make it impossible for surgeons to access the valve through traditional open heart.

With TAVR, the chest isn't opened and the heart isn't stopped.  Cardiothoracic Surgeon Matthew Williams was on the team at Jewish to first perform the procedure.  "We gain access to an artery in the groin and then we pass a wire up the arterial system across the aortic valve" Dr. Williams said.  

A balloon is inserted to inflate that valve enough to implant a new valve.  It's over in just minutes.

"If Scott had not had surgery, I don't think he would have been around much longer" Dr. Williams said.

Now, just 3 weeks post procedure, and Scott is back on the transplant list.

"Lots of prayers have been answered, always seems god has always directed us in the right path" said Demetria McBride, Barron's longtime girlfriend.

Williams calls it "incredibly rewarding, to provide treatment for people who otherwise wouldn't get treatment, provide life extension for those people."

A bonus for these patients is a shortened recovery time as well, instead of the 6 to 12 weeks from open heart surgery, they can expect to be up and going in just 2 weeks.