Patient Success: TAVR Saves Stella’s Life

I’m very fortunate to meet many patients with heart valve disease. It’s always interesting to hear how each patient has a unique story specific to their valvular disorder.

Stella McClellan is a perfect example of this phenomena. Within 30 seconds of meeting Stella, I was captivated by her story. I mean… When someone tells you they were about to die from aortic stenosis, how can you not want to learn more. This is Stella’s patient success story thanks to a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR).

Many thanks to Stella and Glenda, her sister, for sharing their story with me. Also, many thanks to Dr. Chris Malaisrie, Dr. Mark Ricciardi, Dr. Hyde Russell and the entire Northwestern Medicine team for their wonderful care of Stella.

Keep on tickin’ Stella!

P.S. For the hearing impaired members of our community, I have provided a written transcript of this video below.

Mark Ricciardi: My name is Mark Ricciardi. I’m one of the Interventional Cardiologists, and I oversee the section of international cardiology here at Northwestern. I’ve been in practice for about 15 years. I typically do the following procedures. They’re procedures that are minimally invasive and what we call transcatheter procedures. That means that I can apply therapies to the heart through catheters, which are small tubes put in various arteries. I typically work on the supply of the heart as well as the valves in the heart.

Chris Malaisrie: My name is Chris Malaisrie. I’m a Cardiac Surgeon at the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute of Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. I’ve been a cardiac surgeon at Northwestern for seven years. My focus of cardiac surgery is in valvular heart disease as well as aortic disease. What attracted me to cardiac surgery is the opportunity to help patients in an immediate and quick fashion. It’s always amazing to me how small an operation, such as a valve replacement or a valve repair, can lead to such a great improvement in patients’ symptoms.

Mark Ricciardi: Interventional cardiology also allows for a lot of innovation. Whenever you try to treat diseases and ailments, there’s always this drive for innovation to do things more efficiently, with smaller devices, and ones that are much better tolerated. TAVR embodies a lot of what we think about interventional cardiology, minimizing risk with the maximum outcome. It’s the perfect minimally invasive interventional cardiology treatment.

Chris Malaisrie: TAVR is an acronym for transcatheter aortic valve replacement. It’s a treatment for patients who are at higher risk or inoperable with aortic stenosis.

Stella McClellan:  My name is Stella McClellan. I’m 70 years old and I live in Tampa, Florida. Everybody told me I was going to die. They didn’t beat around the bush; they told me I was going to die.  Northwestern had come up with a new way to do things that didn’t entail open-heart surgery but he didn’t know if I’d be a candidate for it or not.

Glenda Chapman, Stella’s sister: Every doctor she went to told her that she couldn’t make it with open-heart surgery. She has to get stronger and stronger, but she wasn’t getting no stronger; she was getting weaker.

Mark Ricciardi: Mrs. McClellan was a very good candidate for the TAVR procedure because she was one of those patients who we were very concerned may not tolerate a conventional surgical approach.

Stella McClellan: He went and wrote to Dr. Russell. They interviewed me and had me come in, and within a week or so I was having my surgery.

Mark Ricciardi: She had a disease process that left untreated would likely cause her demise.

Chris Malaisrie: Aortic stenosis is a disease of the aortic valve, where the valve becomes too tight. It restricts blood flowing from the heart to the rest of the body. Aortic stenosis causes severe symptoms of shortness of breath, chest pain, and sometimes passing out. If left untreated, it can lead to heart failure.

Stella McClellan: I’m just very happy. I would recommend Northwestern and the surgery I’ve had done to anybody.

Mark Ricciardi: Mrs. McClellan did very well with her procedure. She recovered quickly. She was home quickly. She did what we expect our patients to do who went through her type of procedure, which is to recovery rapidly and see almost an immediate improvement in symptoms.

Chris Malaisrie: My advice to patients, who have aortic stenosis and are looking at TAVR as an option for treatment, is to seek a team that is a multi-disciplinary team, otherwise known as a heart valve team. These patients can be seen by both cardiac surgery and interventional cardiologist.

Glenda Chapman: Northwestern is the best. They really treated my sister very, very good.

Stella McClellan: They waited on me hand and foot. Maybe I’ve played them up a little.

Adam Pick
Written by Adam Pick

Adam Pick is a patient, author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery and the founder of

To learn how Adam has helped millions of people with heart valve disease, watch Adam's video, subscribe to his free newsletter, or visit his Facebook, or Twitter pages.

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