Thursday 14th April 2022
This year, to mark the 20th Anniversary of the first TAVI we will be sharing twenty TAVI stories - one for every year the procedure has been being performed. 85-year-old, Mary Kernick, was diagnosed with heart valve disease while having checks for suspected gall stones. After discussions with her clinician, they decided a TAVI was the best treatment option for her. This is her valve disease story.
My story started in November 2019 I was admitted to the General Hospital with suspected infected gall stones, and during the various tests a heart murmur was discovered and it was recommended that I see a Cardiologist.
I was diagnosed with aortic stenosis after an echocardiogram, but to be honest, apart from breathlessness, I had no other symptoms at the beginning. As time went on, I suffered from palpitations and pain around the heart. I had to take every day living a little easier, no heavy gardening, a stroll instead of a walk and even my swimming passion was taken in a more leisurely fashion.
Thinking back, for several years prior to my diagnosis, I found I was avoiding climbing slopes if I could avoid them. I just put this down to my octogenarian years, but I realise it was the aortic not functioning as it should. I rarely see my GP but do have a regular annual MOT and wish now that she had popped a stethoscope on me to check my heart to give an earlier diagnosis. In fact, it would be a good idea if every GP in the Country could do this for their post-75 patients.
An appointment to see a Cardiologist was arranged in early January 2020. At this appointment, the procedures were carefully explained by Professor Curzen. We discussed the various treatment options available to me, but I opted for the TAVI procedure as my husband has his own health problems. It was explained that this procedure would result in a shorter hospital stay, and recovery was quicker. In my particular situation, I thought that was important.
After various tests, it was agreed that the TAVI would be suitable, and I was popped onto the waiting list. During all the tests the Hospital staff were wonderful. Very professional and caring.
My TAVI experience was absolutely fine, almost routine. I was in the hospital for one night with one to one care and told to take it easy for a couple of weeks and not drive for a month. The incision in my groin took a little time to heal but I carried on my routine as normal. A few weeks after the op. I had a couple of tests to make sure everything was fine and telephone consultation with Prof. Curzen to assure me that all was well.
Before the operation, I can see that I was not living life to the full, as I now know the consequences and seriousness of my condition. The cardiologist told me that the valve was very calcified, and without the op., my life would be limited. After the operation, I was assured that it had been very successful, which gave me a feeling of exhilaration and gratitude to the staff.
A few days after my return home, I wrote to Professor Curzen thanking him for saving my life. I also wrote a letter to the TAVI team to thank them for all their help and support.
No words can express my gratitude for them.
I believe that the Southampton Cardiology Department is the best in the country and I felt so lucky to be a Sotonian - although there were many other patients from all over the South of England and the Channel Islands.
Thanks to them I am now looking forward to the rest of my life and pursuing my passion for travel and seeing the sights without worrying about my health. I’ve got my husband, Allen, my two sons and three grandchildren to spend time with, and lots of swimming, snorkelling, walking, gardening and reading to look forward to."
Professor Nick Curzen said: “Mrs Kernick’s story is typical for many patients with life-changing and life-threatening aortic stenosis. It was a great pleasure to be able to guide her through the process of the work up and decision-making about TAVI, and then, of course, the procedure itself. I am so delighted that it has transformed her life and will have certainly extended it.“
Heart Valve Voice Executive Director Wil Woan said: "Thank you, Mary, for sharing your story and what a great way to start our 20 for 20 TAVI campaign. Mary's story illustrates how far TAVI has come since Alain Cribbier's first procedure some 20 years ago. Mary was able to receive her lifesaving treatment and was discharged the next day. She can now look forward to the rest of her life with her wonderful family."