A Breath of Fresh Air

cardiology patient julie oldani sitting in her patio roomActivities of everyday life began to become burdensome for Julie Oldani, of Bloomfield Hills, as she struggled to breathe and keep up with her busy schedule.

“It seemed that I couldn’t walk five steps without resting or catching my breath,” says Julie.

After entertaining her family on a busy Christmas Day, it was becoming apparent that she needed help. She made an appointment at the Henry Ford Quick Care Clinic in Detroit the following month. After having a thorough exam, she was referred to Henry Ford cardiologist, Dr. Stephen Smith.

Dr. Smith determined that further diagnostic procedures were needed. He administered an electrocardiogram and next determined that Julie should receive a cardiac catheterization, a diagnostic procedure which does a comprehensive exam on the heart and its blood vessel function. He recommended that she be immediately transported by ambulance to Henry Ford Hospital for further study and evaluation.

The ambulance took her to Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit where she was admitted to the intensive care unit and found out she was on the verge of cardiogenic shock. The cardiac team moved quickly and arranged for a heart pump and three stents to be inserted immediately. After additional testing, Julie learned that she needed a new aortic valve.

Anxious at the idea of heart surgery, she was relieved when her doctor told her she was a candidate for the minimally invasive procedure called Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR). However, since the blood vessels that feed the heart opened very close to her diseased valve, she would also require the newly developed BASILICA procedure - a procedure done during the TAVR. While feeling relieved that Julie would be able to get this procedure, she credits the nursing staff for further putting her at ease.

On February 14, Dr. Marvin Eng performed the BASILICA procedure, making Julie the 4th patient in the world to have this life-saving procedure.

That Valentine’s Day, a new life was breathed into me,” says Julie.

After almost three weeks in the ICU, Julie began the Henry Ford Cardiac Rehabilitation Program. It was predicted that she might need two to three weeks in the program, but her breathing improved so well that she was able to finish after five days. “Now I have no restrictions. I can walk for several miles and continue my busy professional and volunteer careers without experiencing any previous symptoms,” she says.

Julie credits the entire team at Henry Ford with her extraordinary recovery.

“There is not a day that goes by that I fail to reflect on how fortunate I am to have experienced such excellent care at Henry Ford,” says Julie. “I faced extremely challenging health issues and each person who cared for me along the way respected my personal dignity. The words ‘thank you’ seem inadequate.”

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