North Canton Woman Recovers Strength, Spirit at 97 After TAVR Procedure
Virginia Boyle survived a heart attack at age 72. Living with her son in Ravenna, Ohio, at the time, she underwent a heart catheterization at an Akron hospital, returning five subsequent times for stents.
For nearly 25 years, her heart remained stable, and Virginia—a mother of six with many grandchildren and a close-knit family—enjoyed life. When her son unexpectedly died, she moved in with her daughter, Marilyn Rose, a retired nurse and North Canton resident, and remained very active, paying her own bills, going to church, shopping, playing Scrabble, gardening, and more.
Then, in January 2018 at the age of 95, the chest pain recurred. Marilyn took her mom to see Steven Hirsch, M.D., an interventional cardiologist with Mercy Cardiovascular Institute (MCI).
“During my career, I worked for the Stark Summit Ambulance Mobile Intensive Care Unit from 1997 to 2006 and was familiar with Mercy Emergency Chest Pain Center,” she said. “I was always impressed with how quickly and professionally Mercy cared for its heart patients.”
Over the next nearly two years, Dr. Hirsch treated Virginia many times with stents. She gradually gave up her activities and eventually her hope. Shortly after her 97th birthday last October, he referred her to Ahmed Sabe, M.D., interventional cardiologist and president of the Heart Hospital at Mercy, for transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). Mercy’s program was the first in the Akron-Canton area to perform TAVR without general anesthesia in 2016, allowing the hospital to expand its care to include certain high-risk patients who may not be eligible for TAVR elsewhere and often send them home the same day as the procedure.
Marilyn and her son, an emergency medicine physician, immediately began researching TAVR. “We quickly agreed TAVR was the way to go for my mom, and she needed to have it at Mercy,” she said.
Virginia and her daughter met Dr. Sabe on December 5. Marilyn said, “My mom told him that she was alive but not living, and he spoke to her with compassion and encouragement. We were both so impressed. So many physicians would have written her off because of her age, but thanks to both Dr. Sabe and Dr. Hirsch, we felt hopeful again.”
Teree Rice, CNP, MSN, BA, RN, AGPCNP-BC, CHFN, was also part of Virginia’s care team. Marilyn said, “Teree was awesome. I loved how she communicated with us.”
On January 24, 2020, Dr. Sabe performed Virginia’s TAVR procedure. When Marilyn saw her mom immediately afterwards, Virginia smiled and said, “I feel so much better.” Virginia was sent home the very next day.
With more than 30 years of experience in treating heart valve patients, Dr. Sabe performs more than 1,000 procedures every year. He said, “I am always available for second-opinion consults to help patients avoid open heart surgery in favor of TAVR, a less invasive procedure that’s of equal quality and outcomes.
As she gradually recovers her strength and her spirit, Virginia is taking short walks, re-potting plants, and even thinking about taking a trip to Florida to visit family.
“I am in awe with what a difference TAVR has made for my mom,” said Marilyn. “Everyone we met at the hospital was so professional and kind. Mercy gave us our mom back, and it is such a blessing.”
Learn more about TAVR at Mercy.