A new trial going on in the Texas Medical Center could potentially lead to a better quality and longer life for hundreds of thousands of people.
Eighty-seven-year-old Arthur Craig of Southwest Houston said he feels at least 10 years younger just one day after heart surgery.
He told Local 2, "I can't believe it that 24 hours ago, I was on the operating table. I feel good. I really feel like I got more energy."
Weeks before, Craig was taken to Memorial Hermann's Heart and Vascular Institute for congestive heart failure.
He has aortic valve stenosis, the narrowing of the valve that carries blood to the heart.
About 1.5 million people have it and nearly 300,000 of those are considered severe cases, like Craig's.
Craig said that prior to surgery, "Walking from my room my apartment up to the mess hall where we have all of our meals, and that's a distance of 200 yards, maybe more, and I was out of breath when I arrived. I said that's wrong."
Craig's interventional cardiologist, Dr. Ali Denktas with UTHealth and Memorial Hermann, thought he would be a good candidate for a new, smaller valve.
The Heart and Vascular Institute is one of only three sites in Texas doing transcatheter aortic valve replacements (TAVR) on patients like Craig, who are not ideal candidates for open heart surgery.
Denktas explained, "It is less invasive. Obviously, we don't crack the chest open, we go through the groin, in this case, and he can be up the following day."
Craig was randomly selected in a clinical trial to get the new valve.
He recalled, "Gee, one of the best phone calls I ever got in my life."
He is the 100th patient in a year to do so at Memorial Hermann.
Denktas explained that during the procedure, "You push the faulty valve aside with the balloon and the stent, so yes it takes over the faulty valve."
The benefits are felt immediately: rapid recovery, improved circulation and more years with loved ones.