Clinical trial aims to help 'inoperable' get heart surgery

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by SHELLY SLATER

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaashelly

WFAA

Posted on April 21, 2011 at 10:40 PM

DALLAS - More than half a million heart surgeries are done each year in the United States for a variety of heart problems, but some patients are just too old or frail for surgery.

Now, there's hope for many once considered "inoperable."

Dr. David Rosenberg is an anesthesiologist from Nebraska who came to Dallas looking for a cure. His heart is weak, but a first of its kind procedure at Medical City Dallas is non-invasive and low risk.

The tables have turned for Rosenberg. Although a doctor himself, this time he's the patient of a cutting edge clinical trial. Rosenberg said after multiple heart surgeries, he had given up. His quality of life suffered and he was considered inoperable.

"I said, 'If I have to live life like this, I don't want to do it,'" he said.

And thus, his search for help began. He ended up at Medical City Dallas for what's called an advanced aortic transcatheter valve.

"It's a valve on a stick," said Dr. Todd Dewey, Medical City Dallas.

Dewey and team uses a catheter to go through the leg or ribs to reach the heart. They then blow up the valve where it's narrowed and stays in place where it functions immediately.

"It's a difference of night and day," Rosenberg said. "It was like over a 10-second period [and] it was a new life."

Unlike open heart surgery, which takes months to recover from, this procedure only takes weeks to recover. It's in the trial phase still now with a 96 percent rate.

"To have the patients come back and say, 'I saw my great granddaughter graduate from high school,' or, 'I celebrated my birthday with my family,' you can't put that into words," Dewey said.

"I am very grateful to a lot of people throughout this community," Rosenberg said.

It's a 45-minute surgery where the heart never stops beating and is focused on an older generation whose bodies can't handle open heart surgery anymore. And while doctors are giving back quality of life, Dewey said they receive so much in return.

"They are the greatest generation," Dewey said. "They really are. They have done so much for our society. It's very gratifying to give back to them at this time in their lives."

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