A revolutionary procedure for heart patients is celebrating one-and-a-half years of getting Oklahomans back on their feet. The procedure is for patients who are too sick for open heart surgery but facing long odds of survival.
One Tulsa man says the procedure is almost too good to be true.
"I tell you, it's hard to grasp. It's almost been a year of euphoria," said Jim Meehan.
Jim Meehan says he was "staring death in the eyes" almost two years ago. He was suffering from aortic stenosis, a disease that causes the opening of the aortic valve to narrow.
"At that time I could hardly walk from the bed to the bathroom - it was that bad," Meehan said.
Meehan had already had bypass surgery in 2000, and his doctors said he had a 20 percent chance of surviving open heart surgery. But then he learned about a new procedure at the Oklahoma Heart Institute called a TAVR.
TAVR stands for "trans-catheter aortic valve replacement," said Dr. Kamran Muhammad, cardiologist.
Dr. Kamran Muhammad is the cardiologist who performed the TAVR procedure on Meehan in July 2012.
"I think it's an amazing thing. It's actually one of the biggest breakthroughs in cardiology in probably a decade," Dr. Muhammad said.
Doctors use the TAVR procedure to go through the femoral artery in the groin to replace the valve.
"So we don't open the chest; we don't stop the heart; we don't need to go on a heart-lung machine," Muhammad said.
Meehan says after his first bypass surgery, it took him six months to a year to fully recover, but after the TAVR procedure he says he was back to work within four days.
"They put me to sleep; I woke up normal," said Jim Meehan, a Tulsa resident and heart patient.
Meehan says he's never enjoyed life more since the surgery. He encourages anyone who's been told they're too sick for open heart surgery to explore the TAVR, he says getting to spend this extra time with his grandchildren has been a gift.
"You see graduations and birthdays and stuff like that, that you didn't count on being able to see," he said.
The TAVR procedure is also available at Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa as well as Integris Heart Hospital and the Oklahoma Heart Hospital in Oklahoma City.