HEALTH: Alabama Doctors discover new way to replace heart valves

Updated: Wednesday, August 6 2014, 07:09 PM CDT
HEALTH: Alabama Doctors discover new way to replace heart valves story image

Doctors in Birmingham have discovered an alternative way to replace heart valves without opening up the patient.
It's called a valve-in-valve trans-catheter aortic valve replacement. Although it is still not FDA approved.

"I'm feeling great, I'm feeling like I've just started a new life," says Randall Warren. He had no trouble breathing during the interview, something that would have been challenging just a month ago. "I'd lay down and I might as well cover my mouth cause I couldn't breathe. Even on my left side, I couldn't breathe. I could breathe a little bit if I laid on my right side. But, it was one of the most miserable times in my life."

Warren has an aortic valve replacement 3 years ago, but it deteriorated quickly. Doctors were left with few options. "We looked at him and we talked about it," "But, given his age, the redo status and his other comorbidities, we really felt he was way too high risk for open surgery."

Doctor James Davies and Doctor Seun Alli conducted Alabama's first valve-in-valve trans-catheter aortic valve replacement. "Basically where we go through the groin or from another access site to replace the valve without taking the other valve out and without using the heart lung machine, so, basically we don't stop the heart and we put a new valve in."

"Immediately, it was just great, woke up and I was breathing- laying down on my back breathing," said Warren.

The procedure is not yet FDA approved, but Davies and Alli felt comfortable performing it. "There's a lot of data in it but still not approved by the FDA so its sort of an off the label use of the device,"
Warren says he had no hesitation. "I would think of having to sit there in that chair and breath or lay down and breath. I was ready to try, I would have tried anything that was reasonable sensible."

Doctors at UAB hope to do this procedure every one to two weeks going forward.
HEALTH: Alabama Doctors discover new way to replace heart valves
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