PLAINS TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — “I didn’t think I was going to make it a couple months ago.” Seated next to her daughter Lori on Thursday morning, Miriam Turner counted her blessings to be alive. The 72-year-old Mountain Top woman’s health had been failing since suffering four heart attacks four years ago. “I survived the heart attacks but the breathing… I was just laboring and couldn’t hardly walk,” she said.
Miriam consulted cardiac doctors at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center. They looked at images of her heart and determined she needed aortic valve replacement but considered her high risk for open heart surgery. Instead, they performed a procedure called transcatheter aortic valve replacement or TAVR. “This is a totally game changing innovation in the management of patients who have aortic stenosis which is narrowing of the aortic valve,” said Geisinger Health System Cardiologist Dr. Kishore Harjai, MD.
Using moderate sedation and no surgical incisions, doctors inserted a wire through Miriam’s groin on April 4th and delivered the necessary tools and replacement valve to her heart. Even though studies are still being done about just how long such valves will last that Miriam received, doctors expect the valve to last and provide her many more years. “It will really give her ample opportunity to sort of live her life the fullest that she can live compared to having been debilitated the way she was before.” said Geisinger Health System Cardiac Surgeon Dr. Deepak Singh, MD.
Just six weeks after the procedure, Miriam is already planning to resume her missionary work that was on hiatus. “That was one of my biggest regrets because for the last four years I haven’t been able to go.” But now that’s possible thanks to the TAVR procedure.
Geisinger Wyoming Valley recently completed its 100th TAVR. In northeastern and central Pennsylvania, the procedure is only available at Geisinger Wyoming Valley and Geisinger Medical Center in Danville.