A pair of valves for the Flueckigers

Like any good love story, Jerry and Kay Flueckiger’s is one with a truly happy ending.

“My husband has had heart problems for 32 years now,” Kay said, “and I’ve always taken care of him. This big thing was, Jerry couldn’t catch his breath. He couldn’t walk very far, or any distance, without his walker. And he fell so many times. I was getting really concerned.”

Kay, 79, pursued care for her husband outside of Parkview Health, but soon grew worried after his symptoms seemed to be getting worse. “Finally, I called Parkview Physician’s Group – Cardiology, and told them what was going on. They immediately got him in and we saw five doctors, including Dr. [Roy] Robertson.”

Dr. Robertson diagnosed Jerry, 83, with aortic valve stenosis, making him a strong candidate for a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedure. This option is often ideal for patients who would not tolerate other surgical options for aortic valve replacement, as this treatment option is performed on a beating (rather than arrested) heart.

On March 5, 2018, Dr. Robertson and Douglas Gray, MD, PPG – Cardiovascular Surgery, gave Jerry a new lease on life, and it turns out, the intervention was just in time.

“If we would have waited another week, Jerry wouldn’t be here,” Kay said. “Dr. Robertson recognized the issue right away and got it all lined up. He came through surgery and he’s been doing fine since. It’s a miracle.  He still has heart problems, but this heart valve is giving us more time.” 

But the couple’s time at the Parkview Heart Institute wasn’t quite over.

“I get bronchitis and pneumonia really fast,” Kay shared. “I was wheezy, so I went in to my family doctor for a checkup. He kept checking this one spot, so I asked why he was only checking there, and he said, ‘Kay, you’ve got a problem. I want you to go see a cardiologist.’ So, I requested Dr. Robertson.”

Much to the surprise of her care team, Kay was also diagnosed with aortic valve stenosis, just months after her husband. “I’ll never forget the doctor’s face,” she chuckled.

Shortly after receiving her diagnosis, Kay suffered a fall carrying groceries into her home. She had to postpone her TAVR procedure three times to allow for back surgery, but on August 13, 2018, she was able to receive her new valve.

“My aorta valve is doing great, and I’m doing great. Dr. Robertson said this was the first time they’ve ever done a couple, that they know of. Especially in the same year! I have to say, they were all so great, but in particular, Dr. Gray and Dr. Robertson took such great care of us. They have kept Jerry going, and it’s really something that he’s here.”

 

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