“I’ll go first,” joked Harry Evans in February 2021 as he hopped on the bed at IU Health Arnett Hospital to receive the first transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedure in Tippecanoe County.
One year later, he still feels like a new man.
Prior to the TAVR procedure, the 85-year-old White County resident was unable to even walk down his driveway to get his mail. A year later, he walks his newly adopted Pyrenees, Miss Betty—named for the day she was adopted in honor of Betty White—up and down the road several times a day.
“Aortic stenosis can interfere with daily activities as basic as walking,” explains M. Ziaul Hoque, MD, FACC, FSCAI, interventional cardiologist at IU Health Arnett. “It is very exciting to offer a minimally invasive procedure that can provide a solution for patients with aortic stenosis. TAVR can lengthen and greatly improve the quality of a patient’s life. Getting a patient back to enjoying life is our ultimate goal.”
Aortic stenosis is a build-up of calcium deposits on the last “door” of the heart, known as the aortic valve. This causes the opening to narrow and reduce the blood flow to the rest of your body. Over time, if your valve doesn’t fully open, your heart must work harder to push blood through to your body. This causes symptoms like shortness of breath, lightheadedness, fatigue and potentially a shortened lifespan.
During the TAVR procedure, an artificial valve is implanted through a catheter, eliminating the need for open-heart surgery. The procedure is performed in a catherization lab that allows for maximum collaboration between surgeons and interventional cardiologists.
Evans was able to go home the day after his procedure.
“It is a less invasive operation and a better alternative for patients who may be older, have more co-morbidities or medical problems, have issues with mobility or have a higher risk for surgery,” explains Kyle Yancey, MD, cardiothoracic surgeon at IU Health Arnett. “For Harry, we were able to give him the chance to have some of his life back.”
Not a man to sit around the house, Evans says he does have his life back. (He worked on the Monon Railroad for 26 years driving spikes, by hand.) In his retirement he likes to keep busy. He mows the four acres he lives on north of Monticello. He takes care of the house and cooks for his wife. Two days a week he mows and cleans the gym at Delphi. He has helped refurbish the trailer for the Domestic Animal Rescue Team (DART) in Carroll County. He likes to help people.