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Last Of Five Heart Operations Completed

Last Of Five Heart Operations Completed

Doctors at Waikato Hospital completed the last of five transcatheter
aortic valve implementations just over an hour ago.

Dr Sanjeevan Pasupati, one of a few cardiologists in the world with
experience in this procedure, said the three operations today and the
two yesterday all went well. They are the first to be done in a New
Zealand public hospital.

Ramona Johnson, 79, of Tauranga was the first to undergo the procedure
yesterday morning and this afternoon was up and walking the ward at
Waikato Hospital's cardiac care unit.

She is expected to return home on Monday.

The operations are only possible thanks to the generosity of the
Waikato Heart Trust and a private benefactor who gifted more than
$300,000 to cover the cost of the valves for the procedures.

More than 120 people a year present at Waikato Hospital with aortic
stenosis, a condition where the main outflow valve from the heart
thickens and does not open fully.

Replacement of the valve is via the leg, and involves inserting a new
valve inside the old aortic valve. The patient only requires a local
anaesthetic, and the recovery time is much shorter than for open-heart

With aortic stenosis, all the blood leaving the heart has to go through
the main outflow valve and severe narrowing of the valve causes
restricted blood flow to the rest of the body.

Restricted blood flow puts a strain on the heart and eventually causes
breathlessness, chest pain, blackouts and heart failure.
Once patients notice symptoms, about 50 per cent of patients with
aortic stenosis die within two years. In comparison 50 per cent of
cancer patients will die within five years.

Only about 2000 transcatheter aortic valve implementations have
occurred worldwide and all in the northern hemisphere.

Waikato Hospital head of medicine Dr Clyde Wade said the Waikato Heart
Trust promised to provide support for the transcatheter aortic valve
implantation procedure which resulted in the appointment of Dr

The former Te Kuiti High School dux regularly fields job offers from
around the world but chose to stay in the Waikato.

"We face intense international competition for highly skilled health
professionals," said Dr Wade.

"We cannot compete internationally on salaries but knowing I have the
backing of the Waikato Heart Trust, I can assure prospective employees
that we will be able to provide the cutting edge equitment that they
need to ply their trade."

The patients include two other 79-year-olds; one from Otorohanga and
the other from Tokoroa, a 60-year-old Gisborne man and a 91-year-old
Hamilton woman.

Dr Pasupati is available for interviews. Please register your interest
with me by email.


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