I will never look at life the same

IHI_Foundation_CampaignThe past year of my life has been quite a challenge. On New Year’s Eve 2013 I was having trouble breathing. I couldn’t get my chest to push the air in or out, which was quite scary and I had to take an ambulance ride to the hospital. I was told that my aortic heart valve was quite large and deformed, and that I should have the Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) procedure.

In March, after several tests and my condition worsening, I went to Seattle for the TAVR procedure. Because the right size valve was not available for the procedure, I had a valvuloplasty procedure done instead. The nurse had my husband, daughter, and I say our goodbyes because of the risk of the procedure. Thankfully, the valvuloplasty went well and my breathing improved allowing me to go home sooner than expected, delaying the TAVR procedure.  

Unfortunately, in June more complications occurred. After my daughter researched the TAVR procedure I chose to meet with heart surgeons and the TAVR team at the International Heart Institute at St. Patrick Hospital.

When I arrived at the hospital there was a prayer announcement, which thrilled me. The comfort and warmth of the building and the people gave me a sense of peace. My family was so impressed with how well we were treated at St. Pat’s. Everyone at the hospital assisted us the whole way.

The International Heart Institute is one of the nation’s 50 Top Cardiovascular Hospitals for the eighth year in a row and has won the “Above the Line” award for outcomes excellence. The TAVR procedure is a less invasive surgical option to help patients suffering from severe aortic heart valve stenosis. It gave me back the ability to live my life without as many physical restrictions. St. Pat’s will complete its 100th TAVR procedure this winter.

Thanks to the IHI team and the TAVR procedure, I was able to go home shortly after my surgery. I continued gardening and now do cardio at a local gym three times a week, something I was not able to previously do. I will never look at life the same.

St. Pat’s and the International Heart Institute Team truly blessed my heart!

Please join me in supporting the International Heart Institute of Montana or one of the other wonderful programs at Providence Montana Health Foundation by making a donation today.

Your generous support of the Providence Montana Health Foundation International Heart Institute of Montana program, no matter the size of your gift, will make available high quality cardiac care, research, training, and education.


Shirley May Johnson

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