Seventy-eight-year-old John Defazio of
Hampton Bays, NY, was recently given
a new lease on life, thanks to a new
heart valve designed for patients who are
not candidates for open heart surgery.
Mr. Defazio suffered from aortic
valve stenosis – a severe chronic condition
in which the aortic valve does not
open properly, hindering the flow of
blood from the heart to the rest of the
body. As the heart works harder to
pump enough blood through the smaller
valve opening, the heart weakens,
which can cause chest pain, heart palpitations,
fatigue, and heart murmur, and
may even lead to heart failure.
Traditionally, the primary treatment
for aortic stenosis has been surgery.
However, until recently, certain patients
with severe stenosis were considered too
sick for surgery. Therefore, their conditions
were considered hopeless.
As Mr. Defazio’s condition worsened
this past year, it became apparent that he
would not be a candidate for surgery.
His cardiologist referred him to Richard
Schwartz, DO, Director of Cardiovascular
Outreach at Winthrop, who identified
Mr. Defazio as an ideal candidate for
the new Edwards Sapien Transcathether
Heart Valve. This valve is recommended
for select patients who are not candidates
for open heart surgery and were previously
On April 27, 2012, a multidisciplinary
team of physicians – including Dr.
Schwartz, Kevin P. Marzo, MD, Chief
of the Division of Cardiology, John A.
Goncalves, MD, Chief of the Division
of Cardiothoracic Surgery, and Scott L.
Schubach, MD, Chairman of the
Department of Thoracic & Cardiovascular
Surgery – worked collaboratively to replace
Mr. Defazio’s valve with the Edwards
Sapien Transcathether Heart Valve. This
procedure was performed without open
heart surgery by inserting the aortic
valve via a catheter through an artery in
the groin and then advancing it up to
the heart. The valve then expanded with
a balloon and immediately functioned
in place of Mr. Defazio’s own valve.
“As soon as I woke up, I felt so much
better. I could breathe easier and my
blood pressure improved. To me, it was
a miracle,” said Mr. Defazio. “I can’t say
enough about my whole team. They
gave me a new lease on life.”
Winthrop recently became one of
only 70 centers in the United States to
offer the Edwards Sapien Transcathether
Heart Valve. This revolutionary new
technology provides a unique opportunity
for heart surgeons and interventional
cardiologists at Winthrop to work simultaneously
to ensure patients receive the
highest level of care.
At Winthrop, high-risk patients can
be evaluated by a team of specialists to
determine whether or not they are an
appropriate candidate for this technology.
For more information or to schedule a
consultation, call 1-866-WINTHROP.
Vol. 22, No. 2
Back to Publications