William Allen: TAVR Patient and Active at 83

"Jackson is fortunate to have these highly skilled doctors, and my prize goes out to all of them."

William Allen likes being active. He recalls that when he had quadruple bypass surgery at Henry Ford Allegiance Health in 2011, the hardest part of his recovery, other than how much it hurt to cough, was that he had to limit his activity while he healed. “I was told to be careful for six weeks, but after five I had to get back to my normal routine. I couldn’t sit around forever,” the 83-year-old recalled. “As my late wife used to say, ‘It’s better to wear out than to rust out.’”

William’s normal routine includes mowing his 2.5 acre yard, maintaining a large garden and cutting wood. For fun, he loves fishing and hunting with his son, William Jr. When he began experiencing shortness of breath after physical exertion, William went to see his cardiologist, Mark Zande, MD, and the cardiothoracic surgeons who had performed his earlier bypass, Mahender Macha, MD, and Vincent Simonetti, MD. William learned that his aortic valve was not opening and closing properly, and it needed to be replaced. “Getting that news was scary,” he said.

William’s age and prior surgery made open-heart valve replacement particularly challenging. He was also unwilling to go through a lengthy recovery process. Fortunately, William was a good candidate for a minimally invasive procedure to replace the aortic valve without open-heart surgery. And, he was relieved to learn that Henry Ford Allegiance Health’s new structural heart program provides local access to minimally invasive treatments for defects and abnormalities of the heart’s wall, valves and muscle.

The highly specialized procedure William needed is called transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR. The procedure requires extensive training for the surgeons and the entire surgical team, among other rigorous regulations. Henry Ford Allegiance Health had been preparing for months and was ready to begin performing TAVR locally. Henry Ford Health System interventional cardiologist Tiberio Frisoli, MD, who trained the Henry Ford Allegiance Health team, and nurse practitioner Michelle Walker thoroughly explained the procedure to William and his family. William confidently agreed to be the first TAVR patient in Jackson.

Led by Dr. Frisoli and Henry Ford Allegiance Health interventional cardiologists Matthew Jonovich, MD, and Usman Khokhar, MD, William’s TAVR procedure took about an hour and a half. He was able to go home the next day, and he was mowing his lawn within a week.

William is grateful to have had this procedure close to home and thankful for his quick recovery. “Jackson is fortunate to have these highly skilled doctors, and my prize goes out to all of them,” he said. “I am fully active again, and I definitely do not plan to rust out.”

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