Heart

Heart Doctor Joins Elderly Patient to Help Others

Photo by Tony Tribble

This story originally appeared in the Sunday, February 12, 2017 issue of the Cincinnati Enquirer.

 

Collinda Tye was 89 years old when her heart valve failure became critical

"I came home one day from my volunteer job at the food pantry," she recalls. "I had come in and I started feeling sick. I didn't know what was wrong, I just didn't feel well."

Tye's niece drove down from Columbus and took her to the emergency room of an area hospital. "I thought I would be staying there," Tye says. Yet in the middle of the night she was moved to hospice.

During a physical at hospice, a doctor detected a heart murmur. She was taken to another hospital, and ultimately airlifted to TriHealth Good Samaritan Hospital. By the time Tye reached TriHealth cardiologist Dr. Puvi Seshiah, she was already in heart failure.

"She was in what I call the 'death spiral' of aortic stenosis," Dr. Seshiah says. He knew Tye might be a good candidate for transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), a minimally invasive heart valve procedure, but was concerned about her frailty and low blood pressure.

"By the time she was transferred to us she was so sick that I was concerned about implanting a valve," Dr. Seshiah says. "The time it takes to put a device in these patients is only about a half hour to 40 minutes, but that can be all it takes to throw them off the edge."

Despite his concerns, Dr. Seshiah refused to give up

First, he bought some time for Tye to heal.

"There's a procedure called balloon valvuloplasty," he says. "You place a balloon across the aortic valve and that opens the valve enough to give the heart a reprieve. It only lasts anywhere from a few weeks to at the most a few months because the valve scars back again. But we figured if we could get her better and get her through this acute phase, maybe we would be able to bring her back in a week or so and implant a new valve in her."

Tye was transferred to the Marjorie P. Lee Community for therapy, where she was able to regain some strength. "They have very good food," Tye says, which was helpful. "I wasn't eating too good before."

Meanwhile, Dr. Seshiah and his colleagues debated her case. "Over the next two or three days I kept seeing her to figure out where we stood in terms of should we go ahead with a new valve or should we hold off," he says. "Then I heard her story. Until two or three weeks ago she would go every Thursday to this church and work in the food pantry there. I thought, 'This is amazing. Here's this 89-year-old lady who's retired and for all the world shouldn't be able to do this because her valve was so tight, but she kept doing it!' "

Knowing Tye had been so active in spite of her condition convinced Dr. Seshiah that she was strong enough to have the procedure. Tye returned to Good Sam, had the valve replacement and came through with flying colors.

"The next morning I walk in to see her and she's all grumpy," Dr. Seshiah recalls. "She looks at me and says, 'Where's my bacon?' They gave her the cardiac diet! She was fantastic, so I told her when you get better, I'm going to come and help you in your food pantry."

"Dr. Seshiah is very nice," Tye says. "I asked him if I could just have two slices, I didn't want any more than that, and he said yes. And that's all I eat now. Two slices."

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Last Updated: February 01, 2017