Heart and Vascular

A New Lease on Life: John’s Journey with TAVR

Apr 22 2024

For 40 years, John Meiners lived with a heart murmur and often felt like it was a condition he would always have. That was, until early 2022 when John began to experience worrying symptoms.

“Dizziness upon standing, frequent fainting spells and a lack of balance became my new normal,” John explains.

John went to his primary care physician, who explained that he had a severe heart murmur that was worse than what had previously been known. He referred John to Anil Verma, MD, one of our cardiac specialists. Dr. Verma, along with his team, determined that John needed a minimally invasive procedure called a transcatheter aortic valve replacement, also known as TAVR. 

During the TAVR procedure, cardiac specialists insert catheters through small incisions in the groin or chest. The TAVR procedure recommended for John utilizes the transfemoral approach. This meant a catheter would enter the femoral artery near the groin area and then a replacement valve would be inserted on top of the damaged valve. As the new valve expanded, it would push the old valve out of place and take over the function of the old valve.  

At first, John was not convinced.

“I had always been terrified of surgeries, especially those involving my heart,” he explains. “I have had more than 25 surgeries, and none have touched my heart, until now. The thought of undergoing a procedure for my heart petrified me until I met Jami, who patiently walked me through every aspect of the TAVR procedure. Her ability to explain complex medical jargon in simple terms instilled confidence in me. With newfound courage, I decided to proceed, despite my initial reservations.” 

John’s TAVR procedure was scheduled for late November of 2022 at Mercy Health – Fairfield Hospital, under the skilled hands of Dr. Verma and Daniel Eckert, MD. In just 30 minutes, the valve replacement was completed seamlessly. Dr. Verma later explained to John that his old valve was on the verge of failure, making this timely intervention crucial. 

The immediate aftermath of the procedure felt surreal to John.

“After spending the required 24 hours in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU), I felt rejuvenated, as if I had shed decades off my age.” 

For John, the relief was palpable – both physically and mentally. Then, in the months following his TAVR procedure, the transformation was profound. His chronic pain ebbed, his blood pressure normalized and his glucose levels improved. Each day brought new blessings, as John eagerly awaited the dawn of a healthier tomorrow. 

Reflecting on his journey, John marvels at the remarkable recovery facilitated by TAVR. A year later, a heart ultrasound revealed flawless valve function, a testament to the success of the procedure. He now wakes up each morning with renewed vigor rather than uncertainty. 

John is especially thankful for his medical team.

“Through it all, the unwavering support of Jami and Dr. Verma remains unparalleled,” he shares. “Their expertise, coupled with genuine compassion, eased my fears and paved the path to recovery. For that, I am eternally grateful.” 

Looking back on his journey to and beyond his TAVR procedure, John notes, “I am reminded of the transformative power of modern medicine. What once seemed insurmountable is now a testament to resilience and hope. To those facing a similar crossroads, I urge you not to succumb to fear. Trust in the process, lean on your support system and believe in the possibility of a brighter tomorrow.” 

In sharing his story, John hopes to inspire others to embrace the TAVR procedure as a beacon of hope.

“For me, it was more than just a medical intervention; it was a second chance at life – a gift I cherish with every beat of my mended heart. If my experience can offer solace to even one person grappling with uncertainty, then it’s a journey worth sharing. To those considering TAVR, reach out, ask questions and find comfort in knowing that a better tomorrow awaits.” 

Learn more about TAVR as well as the heart and vascular services we provide at Mercy Health.

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