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Innovative heart care brings patients and families back together

O'Neill family shares their experience with TAVR

In November 2016, patients, physicians and staff of the Summa Health Heart and Vascular Institute gathered to mark a milestone in the health system’s history.

A few weeks earlier, the 100th transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedure had been performed in the Richard M. and Yvonne Hamlin Hybrid Operating Room Suite at Summa Health System – Akron Campus. More than 150 individuals have undergone a TAVR procedure at Summa Health since then, enabling these patients and their families to continue celebrating milestones of their own.

A minimally invasive procedure for aortic stenosis, or a narrowing of the aortic heart valve that can be fatal when left untreated, TAVR helps to make treatment more accessible to affected individuals – especially those who are high risk, such as older adults who may not be able to tolerate a more invasive surgical approach.

The O’Neill family of Wadsworth knows the lifesaving benefits of TAVR firsthand. On September 10, 2015, Patrick O’Neill received a text message from his wife that his 90-year-old father, Thomas, was in cardiac arrest. He was transported from his lake house in southern Ohio to Summa Health System – Akron Campus to be evaluated for heart failure treatment.

Though the elder Mr. O’Neill was in good health, he was not a candidate for open-heart surgery due to his age. “TAVR was my father’s only hope,” Mr. O’Neill recalled.

Peter Bittenbender, MD, interventional cardiologist and director of the structural heart disease program at Summa Health, cleared Mr. O’Neill for the TAVR procedure and led the multidisciplinary team that replaced his failing aortic valve.

“Their expert medical care saved Dad’s life,” Mr. O’Neill said.

Today, Mr. O’Neill has a clean bill of health. In the many months that have passed since his surgery, he has celebrated numerous milestones including his 91st birthday, many family holidays, his 62nd wedding anniversary, the weddings of two grandsons and the birth of his great-grandson.

The experience has further strengthened the commitment of both Patrick O’Neill and his wife, Pam, to advancing care at Summa Health. The longtime volunteers serve as advocates for the health system in the community as members of the Summa Health Primary Care Leadership Council. In addition, Mr. O’Neill has served on the Summa Health Golf Outing Steering Committee, most recently serving as the 2016 committee chair.

“Our family’s story is just one of many that reflect the real difference Summa Health has made in all our lives,” he said. “It’s made us realize how important it is to serve and inspires us to do more.”

*photo above* The O’Neill family shared their story at the 100th TAVR procedure celebration. Left to right: Michael Hughes, MD, Patrick O’Neill, TAVR patient Thomas O’Neill, Peter Bittenbender, MD, and Roger Chaffee, MD


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