Patient Success Stories

Patient care that sets us apart

At Henry Ford Health System, our experienced cardiologists help people who have been turned away from other heart centers. Through advanced research, we develop innovative treatments that bring hope to our patients with any kind of structural heart disease—no matter how serious.

One of the most advanced techniques we use is transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). Our medical director at the Center for Structural Heart Disease, William W. O’Neill, M.D., performed the first TAVR procedure in the United States. Together with Adam Greenbaum, M.D., co-director of the Center, and other members of the team, Dr. O’Neill developed a new way to access the aortic valve called the transcaval approach. Learn more about transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) and the transcaval approach—available only at Henry Ford.

Our experts in structural heart disease work together to understand the condition and your overall health. We bring together expertise from several specialties to customize a treatment plan specifically for you. Read on to see how we helped these patients regain their best possible health through TAVR:

  • Andy Smith: One of the youngest TAVR patients in the U.S., he needed a replacement for a worn-out mechanical valve that had been replaced with open-heart surgery years before.
  • Viola Waller: Our heart team used a new approach that they had created, the transcaval approach, to replace a failing aortic valve for this great-grandmother.
  • Louis Mleczko: Our physicians performed TAVR to replace the aortic valve in this formerly active news reporter, avoiding the need for open-heart surgery.
  • Robert Hanselman: Our physicians used advanced 3D printing and a minimally invasive technique to replace this man’s mitral valve, saving his life.
  • Gurnith Crawford: This 95-year-old grandmother was able to attend her grandson’s wedding just 1 month after her minimally invasive TAVR procedure to replace a failing aortic valve.

Andy Smith

At 32, high school soccer coach Andy Smith was one of the youngest people in the U.S. to undergo TAVR. Because he had already had an aortic valve replacement through traditional open-heart surgery at age 23, Smith had limited options for replacing the worn-out valve. Another open-heart surgery with a mechanical valve would mean weeks of recovery, a lifetime of blood thinners—and no more contact sports.

Smith’s hometown cardiologist referred him to Dr. O’Neill at Henry Ford. Using the TAVR procedure, Dr. O’Neill successfully implanted a new heart valve. Smith was able to go home the next day.

Watch Dr. O’Neill and Andy Smith describe TAVR and how it helped Smith maintain his active lifestyle.

Viola Waller

With a failing aortic valve, this grandmother of 5 and great-grandmother of 3 needed another option besides open-heart surgery. Viola Waller turned to the expert team at the Center for Structural Heart Disease at Henry Ford Hospital because of their reputation for innovative treatment.

Because Waller had undergone a traditional surgery to replace the valve years before, another open-heart surgery was not an option for her. Dr. Greenbaum worked with Dr. O’Neill to replace Waller’s failing valve using TAVR through the transcaval approach.

Dr. O’Neill and Dr. Greenbaum developed the unique approach, and Henry Ford is the only heart program in the U.S. to offer it. Our interventional cardiologists access the heart using a small catheter (thin, flexible tube) by temporarily connecting major blood vessels in the abdomen.

Learn more about how TAVR and the transcaval approach provided new hope for Viola Waller, who had no other treatment options.

Louis Mleczko

With severe coronary artery disease and a failing aortic valve, Louis Mleczko learned that he had only 1 to 2 years to live at age 67. Open-heart surgery would have been risky for Mleczko because of his heart conditions, so he needed another solution.

Dr. O’Neill and his team recommended TAVR, a minimally invasive procedure, to replace the failing aortic valve. Because TAVR avoids the need to open the breastbone, it offers less physical stress and a dramatically shorter recovery time. For patients like Mleczko with heart failure, TAVR can mean the difference between life and death.

Robert Hanselman

Robert Hanselman had undergone open-heart surgery to replace his mitral valve 13 years before. But now that this valve was failing, his poor overall health meant that another traditional surgery was out of the question. Hanselman’s cardiologist referred him to Dr. Greenbaum at the Center for Structural Heart Disease at Henry Ford.

Dr. Greenbaum and his team are pioneers in catheter-based heart valve replacement and 3D cardiac imaging to plan the procedure. Using transcatheter mitral valve replacement (TMVR), a minimally invasive procedure similar to TAVR, the team delivered the new valve. By using 3D modeling for Hanselman’s unique heart anatomy, the team planned the valve implantation before the procedure, saving time on the table for Hanselman.

Read more about how Dr. Greenbaum worked with the other heart specialists at the Center to provide this lifesaving treatment for Robert Hanselman.

Gurnith Crawford

At age 95, Gurnith Crawford had worsening heart failure due to a failing aortic heart valve. After previous open-heart surgeries years before, her age and heart condition made traditional surgery impossible.

Crawford’s cardiologist referred her to Dr. O’Neill and his team of interventional cardiologists at the Center for Structural Heart Disease at Henry Ford. The team expedited her treatment, the TAVR procedure, because of her severe heart failure.

After a few days’ hospital stay, Crawford went home to Arizona. Less than 1 month after her TAVR procedure, she attended her grandson’s wedding.

Read more about how our heart team helped Gurnith Crawford regain her active lifestyle.

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