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Woman from outskirts of Phoenix gets second chance at life

Kay Rodrick is able to walk her dog after receiving a second chance at life. (Mike Sackley/KTAR)

Sun City West resident Kay Rodrick, 78, was struggling. Normal everyday tasks were just too much for her.

“I could not function, I really couldn’t,” Rodrick said.

Difficulty breathing made her think she had a lung problem. It was a struggle just to walk and get the mail. She needed oxygen every minute of the day.

It turns out, the problem wasn’t in Rodrick’s lungs, it was with her heart. She was suffering from aortic stenosis. It impairs the aortic valve’s ability to open and close properly. Her cardiologist sent her to Abrazo Arrowhead Campus where she learned of a new procedure.

“They said ‘you’re a candidate for TAVR,’” Rodrick said.

TAVR is short for transcatheter aortic valve replacement. Doctors can insert a new heart valve through a small incision, usually in the groin. The catheter is then guided to the heart where a self-expanding valve is placed while the heart continues to beat. The procedure is for those with too high of a risk to go through open-heart surgery.

“The patients that do well, they end with both life and quality,” said doctor Timothy Byrne, executive director of cardiovascular services for Abrazo Community Health Network. “And that’s the best part of the whole process.”

The procedure has given Rodrick a new lease on life. She now walks without oxygen.

She can take walks and do ordinary things around the neighborhood without any symptoms.

“I can walk my dog to the corner and back, no problem,” Rodrick said. “I really am doing great.”


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