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'An absolute miracle'

Patti Taylor with her granddaughter (Photo: Richard Anderson)

Woman credits U team’s innovative work for her health today

Patti Taylor had a long history of cancer throughout her life—non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at age 10, thyroid cancer at age 21, and, in 2005, a bone sarcoma from post-radiation damage.

So when she began to experience shortness of breath about two years ago, she ended up in the intensive care unit for a month and a half. After she went home, her daughter, Alisha, an emergency medicine nurse, was caring for her 24 hours a day—yet she was still struggling.

Open-heart surgery wasn’t an option, since Taylor had what’s termed a “hostile chest” due to extensive radiation. “Her pericardium is not able to expand; it’s all kind of fused together,” says her daughter.

Being that Alisha worked at the University of Minnesota, she connected with heart surgeon Kenneth Liao, M.D., Ph.D., and interventional cardiologists Robert Wilson, M.D., and Ganesh Raveendran, M.D., to determine the best way to help her mother.

Their options: (1) open-heart surgery, which the doctors doubted Taylor would survive; or (2) a minimally invasive Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement, previously known as a Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation, which is common in Europe.

Taylor was the sixth patient at the University to have the latter procedure. “It worked out phenomenally,” Alisha says. “She was out of the hospital in a week and a half.”

Just as impressive, she adds, was how accessible the team was to Taylor’s family. “All three doctors were there at every appointment. They had a personal, vested interest. They took their time and walked our family through the whole procedure, understanding it was a family decision. … They just went above and beyond.”

Today, Taylor is on diuretics and cardiac medication and will get an echocardiogram in about a year.

“At first, I just wanted to live long enough to see my daughter’s wedding day,” says Taylor. “Now I’m strong enough to babysit my granddaughter.

“It’s an absolute miracle. They saved my life.”

By Barbara Brown

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