Married Couple Share Unexpected Heart Surgery Bond!
Written By: Adam Pick, Patient Advocate, Author & Website Founder
Published: September 20, 2021
The stories in our Patient Community just get better-and-better!
Rosemary and Tom Rice, a wonderful couple that has been married for 53 years, just shared their special heart surgery bond with me.
Rosemary & Tom Rice (Aortic Valve Replacement Patients)
The Story Begins 14 Years Ago…
In her email to me, Rosemary wrote:
Imagine my surprise when I read Adam’s Heart Valve Newsletter on August 26, 2021, welcoming the Mayo Clinic to the HeartValveSurgery.com community.
I had just been released from Mayo Clinic Arizona just 24 hours after having transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR)!
My aortic valve story, however, started 14 years earlier.
In 2007, I had a full body scan. During that exam, the technician was a bit concerned about my aortic valve. Fast forward six years… My cardiologist told me that I would need open heart surgery “sometime” in the future. That was when I started to research my disease and my treatment options.
Luckily, that is when I found Adam’s book, The Patient’s Guide to Heart Valve Surgery, as I entered the “watchful waiting” phase of my treatment plan.
Tom’s Surprise Aortic Stenosis Diagnosis
Fast forward another three years to 2010.
Imagine our surprise when – at a routine appointment – our new cardiologist, Dr. Ali Askari, diagnosed my husband, Tom, with critical aortic stenosis during an echocardiogram. We pulled out Adam’s book again. Tom started his research which led him to Dr. Rick Nishimura at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
Dr. Rick Nishimura (Mayo Clinic)
TAVR was not available to Tom as he was in great health. For that reason, Tom had surgical aortic valve replacement (SAVR) in August, 2017.
Tom After Surgical Aortic Valve Replacement at Mayo Clinic
Tom spent 5 days at Mayo Clinic Minnesota and six weeks recovering in Rochester with our son and his family.
Tom’s recovery went great and he quickly went back to playing golf with our four sons!
Tom Playing Golf With His Four Sons
Rosemary’s Aortic Stenosis Progresses
Two years later, Tom and I went back to Mayo Clinic Minnesota to see Dr. Nishimura. I needed more tests to see if my aortic stenosis had progressed.
While my aortic valve had narrowed, it was not “severe” just yet.
As we live in Arizona, that is when I made the decision to establish myself as a patient at Mayo Clinic Arizona in Scottsdale.
I wanted to be prepared for the aortic valve replacement. And, I wanted to recuperate at home.
TAVR Time for Rosemary!
That takes us to the present.
Four years after Tom, my husband of 53 years, has SAVR… I had TAVR!
We were so amazed that in just four years so much had changed with the process of getting a new aortic valve!
I was able to avoid open heart surgery. I was able to avoid five days in the hospital. I was able to avoid 6 weeks in recovery. I was also able to avoid a mechanical valve and blood thinners for life!
We were so happy. I and my new Edwards SAPIEN 3 aortic valve were released from the hospital in just 24 hours.
I am now one week beyond aortic valve surgery and I have no restrictions. INCREDIBLE!
Mayo Clinic Saves Our “Worn-Out” Hearts!
My team at Mayo Clinic Arizona is fantastic.
Dr. El Masry, who sent me to the Valve Clinic. Dr. Wilansky was truly my patient advocate. The surgeons – Dr. Sell-Dottin, Dr. Fotuin, Dr. Sweeny – and my anesthesiologist – Dr. Murray – were wonderful.
Dr. Kristen Sell-Dottin (Mayo Clinic)
I would hope that everyone who faces heart surgery would have the experiences Tom & I had. We had two completely different surgeries but the same great care at two different Mayo Clinic hospitals.
Thank you Adam for all the information you have shared with our community and beyond.
I know you told me that you have not heard of a husband and wife who both needed aortic valve replacement surgery.
I tease people that Tom and I had “worn-out” our hearts loving each other, our four sons, daughters-in-law, seven grandchildren, extended family and friends.
Now, we can continue our love for everything in our life as we… Keep on ticking!