Patricia and Kerry Pena
Thursday 23rd June 2022
In 2021, 85-year-old, Patricia, began feeling breathless while out walking, but was hiding the symptoms from her loved ones. Knowing something was up, she went to the doctor and further investigation found she had aortic stenosis. Now, thanks to the brilliant team at Leeds Teaching Hospital, she has a "new life" - and is enjoying every minute of it.
This is her story.
"I started to realise something was up when I was walking to the shop, and I would need to sit down. I used to pretend to talk on my phone because I didn’t want anyone to think I was unwell. But I knew something was wrong, so I went to the doctors, and they checked my heart, and it showed that I had a murmur.
A while later, I slipped on some black ice getting into a taxi, and the driver took me straight to the hospital, and the doctor who was looking after me in A&E said that the aortic stenosis was getting worse.
They sent me to see a specialist who told me I needed to have treatment. I went to see a Cardiologist and he said I needed treatment now. At the time, I was more concerned that I needed to have a pacemaker. But the doctor told me it was the valve that was causing the breathlessness and fatigue I had been feeling.
They arranged for me to go to Leeds, and I was in for a day and a half for my TAVI. I was ok, I wasn’t frightened, I had three doctors in there with me, and they were showing me what was happening.
After my TAVI, I was amazed I didn’t have a mark on me. I didn’t feel a thing. It was all so calm, they were amazing. I felt just great.
The symptoms went away straight away. I don’t get breathless anymore, I’m just carefree now. I go out, do my own shopping, my own cleaning. My life is immaculate.
It sounds like a small thing, but it is a great big thing that is keeping you alive. It’s something magical. I’ve nothing on my body that says I’ve had something done on my heart, but it is there.
Now, I can do all these things that were so difficult before, it just seems so wonderful what they’ve done.
Dr Blackman is an angel, and Kerry Pena is so special, so lovely. She is so caring. They gave me such special treatment, it was all so easy.
Since I’ve been treated, life has been great. Every Saturday my friends pick me up and we go somewhere different. This week we’re going to the garden centre to see what nice plants they’ve got, and then we’re having lunch there. I couldn’t have done that without this treatment.
My husband died just over a year ago, and then with the symptoms stopping me from even walking to the shops, life was hard. But this has given me a new life.
If my true story gives some help to somebody, that would be amazing. I wouldn’t want anyone to worry about their TAVI, just remember you’re having something done that will make you feel good! Everyone was so nice, so kind. They treated me like I was somebody special and being treated with something special."
Consultant Cardiologist, Professor Dan Blackman, said: “Patricia’s story highlights both the impact of TAVI on patients' quality of life and its potential as we work through the backlog of patients with severe AS. Despite the pressures of the pandemic, Patricia was able to receive her life-saving treatment - and with only a two-day hospital stay. Now, she lives a good quality of life, is symptom-free, and is able to enjoy time with her friends and family. She’s also giving back, supporting Leeds Hospitals, Valve for Life and Heart Valve Voice at our Your Heart Matters testing event, where she spoke to the public about heart valve disease symptoms and the impact treatment has had on her life. On behalf of myself, Kerry and the team at Leeds I thank her for her kind words and continued support.”
Heart Valve Voice Executive Director, Wil Woan, said: "Thank you, Patricia, for sharing your story with us. Having met Patricia at our Leeds Your Heart Matters Event, I have seen how full of life she is after her procedure and the appetite with which she has grasped this new life. She embodies our message about the power of positive ageing and now lives a fun-filled, independent, life surrounded by friends and families. She's also used her experience to give back, helping to raise awareness of heart valve disease and improve the detection, diagnosis and treatment for future patients."