MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - One of the Mid-South's first patients operated on with cutting edge technology is sharing his story of survival. Baptist Memphis is the only hospital in the Mid-South to have this new heart valve technology.
The FDA approved it in November 2011. Baptist Memphis performed its first surgery in February. Doctors say without this technology 50 percent of patients suffering heart blockage or aortic stenosis would not survive longer than two years.
This new procedure is quick and recovery time is cut in half. So far 11 people have tried it out. It's especially useful for the elderly or people too sick for open heart surgery.
83-year-old Jack Foster of Germantown hit a breaking point over Christmas.
"He couldn't breathe and we had to go to the emergency room,” said Jack’s wife, Sylvia Foster. "His heart just couldn't pump anymore so that's when they decided they needed to replace the valve."
Jack Foster's aorta valve was blocked, forcing his heart to work extra hard.
“A lot of people, particularly as they get older, get blockage in the aorta valve as a result of calcium deposits,” said Baptist Memphis cardiovascular surgeon Dr. Ed Garrett.
Dr. Garrett is the first cardiovascular surgeon to try a new procedure, called transcatheter aortic valve replacement surgery. The valve that’s used in the procedure is the size of a quarter.
"You control it with wires and catheters so you can deliver it where it needs to be,” Dr. Garrett explained.
Then the valve blows up like a balloon and the aorta is blocked no more.
"Golly I’m so thankful to the doctors that knew how to do it,” Jack Foster said.
No major surgery is required. Dr. Garrett says the wires are inserted through the groin.
"So far 100 percent success,” he said.
After the surgery, Jack Foster spent one week instead of months recovering at Baptist Memphis. Three weeks later he's back home with his family.
"It's definitely a second chance. He could not have survived more than another year probably,” said Sylvia Foster.
The cost of the equipment alone is $32,000. As far as the cost of the operation, it can be expensive but it varies by patient. The Fosters say they haven't seen a bill but their insurance is helping with the cost.