Lutheran Hospital Leads Region for Catheter-Based Heart Valve Replacement

Lutheran Among Select Few Hospitals Statewide Offering This Treatment

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Thursday, June 27, 2013) – Lutheran Hospital has added another less invasive treatment option for patients unable to undergo open heart surgery to replace a diseased heart valve. The procedure known as transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR, allows high-risk or inoperable patients to receive the life-saving heart valve through a catheter rather than open heart surgery.

Aortic stenosis is equivalent to the narrowing of the aortic valve. The aortic valve allows the blood pumped by the left ventricle of the heart to flow to the rest of the body. Severe aortic stenosis prevents normal blood from flowing, thus resulting in symptoms such as chest pain, fatigue, shortness of breath and even fainting.

Approximately 250,000 U.S. adults experience severe aortic stenosis each year. Nearly 40 percent of those patients are left untreated as they are too high a risk for surgery. Symptomatic severe aortic stenosis is life-threatening with nearly 50 percent of them likely to perish if untreated in two years.

“TAVR is like an open heart procedure without surgery,” said Vijay Chilakamarri, MD, interventional cardiologist, Lutheran Medical Group. “It gives patients an option that was not previously on the table, and it’s without the stress of travel being involved. This is significant not only because it’s the first time it’s available in this area, but because Lutheran provides cardiovascular care that is a level above. We are well-equipped to help heart patients throughout the course of their treatment—from mild to severe.”

During the TAVR procedure, a balloon-expandable Edwards SAPIEN valve is delivered via a catheter placed in the groin artery. It is the only TAVR therapy approved for commercial use in the country. Lutheran Hospital is one of five hospitals currently offering this treatment in Indiana and among a little more than 200 nationwide.

The first two cases were performed on Delores “Jean” Hamman and Paul Shrader by a heart multidisciplinary team with Dr. Chilakamarri leading the procedure.

Paul Shrader, 88, was a paratrooper beginning in WWII and while serving in the European Theater was set to be sent to Belgium when they were informed the war had ended. He made more than 10 jumps worldwide in two decades of service. His daughter, Shirley Russell, is very involved in his care and both live in Fort Wayne.

“If it wasn’t for this procedure being done in Fort Wayne, dad would be dead in six months,” said Shirley Russell. “He had a defective valve. I was afraid we wouldn’t have made it if he had to travel to get to another city. It’s a miracle.”

Jean Hamman, 80, was thrilled to be the first person at Lutheran to receive TAVR. After overcoming breast cancer in 1999, she was not afraid to pave the way to help her quality of life improve. Hamman started out in Fort Wayne but moved to the Columbia City area and now resides in Warsaw.

“As the area’s tertiary care facility, we constantly look at new ways to improve the quality care we provide northeastern Indiana,” said Brian Bauer, CEO, Lutheran Hospital. “This is why we innovate and do what we do. In essence, we’re bringing hope to folks with no hope.”

“Just as Lutheran Hospital was first to perform a heart transplant locally and to expand treatment for advanced heart failure patients, we proudly continue to lead the region with the latest technology for heart care with the TAVR procedure,” said Joe Dorko, CEO, Lutheran Health Network.

Lutheran’s structural heart team, which includes interventional cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons, takes a rigorous, multidisciplinary approach to patient care to provide appropriate patient selection. When a patient is sent for evaluation, the team will assess the patient and work closely with staff to develop the treatment plan best suited to the patient's needs.  

A hybrid cath lab, a combination cardiac cath lab and operating suite, delivers high-quality fluoroscopic imaging while also offering the space, lighting and anesthesia capabilities needed for an OR suite. The lab allows an interventional cardiologist and a cardiothoracic surgeon to perform collaborative procedures at the same time, such as the TAVR procedure, the repair of aneurysms and shunt closure devices, as well as emergent bypass procedures.

For more information about TAVR, call the structural heart clinic at (260) 435-7110, select anti-coagulant option, or visit


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