UT Medicine cardiologist uses TAVR procedure to return quality of life to New Mexico man

FDA expands approved use of artificial heart valve to more patients

SAN ANTONIO (Nov. 16, 2012) — Roy Robinson, a Vietnam veteran who lives in Carlsbad, N.M., said his doctors gave him one or two years to live with no hope of regaining quality of life.

“I couldn’t do anything because I couldn’t breathe. The doctors had told me my lungs were the problem,” Robinson said.
His days were limited to resting in his recliner. And, he says so were his nights. He slept upright in the recliner because his breathing had become so labored. Even hooked up to a portable oxygen tank, he said he couldn’t walk 5 feet without becoming exhausted.

His wife, Mary Robinson, said her husband finally saw a doctor who figured out the lung issue was secondary to heart failure. “That doctor said his heart must be fixed, but, in his weakened condition, no one wanted to perform heart surgery on him,” she said.

That is when Mary Robinson, and the couple’s daughter, Shari Barnes, took to the internet to find answers. They agree serendipity led them both on separate online journeys to Steven R. Bailey, M.D., professor and chief of the Janey and Dolph Briscoe Division of Cardiology at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio.

Dr. Bailey partners with A.J. Carpenter, M.D., Ph.D., professor of surgery, and an innovative team at the Heart Valve Center, a joint venture of UT Medicine San Antonio and the University Health System that was the first in South Texas to offer Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) for the treatment of critical aortic stenosis.

TAVR is performed by a specially trained team working side by side in a new state-of-the-art hybrid catheterization suite at University Hospital. TAVR allows life-saving aortic valve replacement to be performed on those patients who are too ill to receive traditional surgical replacement. Dr. Bailey and his team performed the procedure on Roy Robinson on Sept. 13. The family was recently in San Antonio for a follow-up appointment.

Dr. Bailey said Robinson’s ability to return to a normal life after this procedure is “truly heartening. It demonstrates the power of TAVR to treat these patients who are so ill. Mr. Robinson had aortic stenosis and was told he was not a candidate for surgery to improve it. They said he was too ill because of his lungs, but this was mostly due to his heart valve.”

TAVR is an ideal procedure for many patients, such as Robinson, because it offers fewer days in the intensive care unit and in the hospital, earlier return to normal activities, and less blood loss than conventional surgical valve replacement.

Robinson sees Dr. Bailey and the procedure as lifesaving and life changing.

“Without Dr. Bailey, I would be dead. I am 180 degrees better. I was just about dead, and now I feel ready to run a footrace,” he said. “Previously, if we went shopping, I had to ride a motorized scooter and use an oxygen tank. Now, I can walk 30 to 40 minutes. I can play with my dog. I can do home repair and work around the house. I can even lay flat to sleep. It is wonderful,” he said.

Dr. Bailey said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently expanded its approval of who can receive the TAVR procedure. Previously, it could only be used on patients who had no other surgical options.

“Now the procedure has been approved for patients at high risk who could have other surgery. The procedure was proven as a research protocol and now can be used on more patients,” he said. “Our 22-member team now has the opportunity to help many high-risk patients. Every patient we treat with this procedure is worth it. It really can change a person’s life.”


UT Medicine San Antonio is the clinical practice of the School of Medicine at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio. With more than 700 doctors – all School of Medicine faculty – UT Medicine is the largest medical practice in Central and South Texas. Expertise is in more than 100 medical specialties and subspecialties. Primary care doctors and specialists see patients in private practice at UT Medicine’s flagship clinical home, the Medical Arts & Research Center (MARC), located at 8300 Floyd Curl Drive, San Antonio 78229. Most major health plans are accepted, and UT Medicine physicians also practice at several local and regional hospitals. Call (210) 450-9000 to schedule an appointment, or visit www.UTMedicine.org for a list of clinics and phone numbers.

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