Last winter, believing she had “long COVID,”Pamela Robinson of Newport struggled through months of feeling tired and out of breath. She had a hard time with normal activities such as going on walks or to the grocery store.
“I just wasn’t getting better,” Robinson said. “Then they started looking at my heart.”
Years ago, she’d had open‑heart surgery to replace her mitral valve. An echocardiogram last spring showed the prosthetic valve had narrowed severely.
Fortunately, this time open‑heart surgery was not her only option. With a special operating room constructed at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in 2019 and an interventional cardiologist with the necessary experience, Robinson became the hospital’s first patient to receive a valve‑in‑valve transcatheter mitral valve replacement.
The minimally invasive procedure was performed in May by Interventional Cardiologist Ashwat Dhillon, MD, of Samaritan Heart Center. The procedure is done with no incisions, rather a catheter is inserted percutaneously (meaning through the skin with a needle) into the femoral vein in the groin.
With the help of high‑tech fluoroscopy imaging in the state‑of‑the art operating room, Dr. Dhillon guided the transcatheter heart valve via a catheter to the defective mitral valve in Robinson’s heart. The new valve was deployed within the old, degenerated valve and immediately began to function normally.
Robinson was able to go home the next day.
“I felt better right away,” she said. “I was able to walk, I was able to sleep. I got my appetite back and just started enjoying life again.”
For Dr. Dhillon, it is gratifying to be able to offer advanced, minimally invasive heart procedures to patients in our region, including other life‑saving procedures like transcatheter aortic valve replacement (commonly known as TAVR) at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center.
“We have an excellent heart valve team consisting of general cardiologists, cardiac surgeons and interventional cardiologists,” said Dr. Dhillon. “The team reviewed all the clinical data for Pam and was able to provide her with treatment near her home, helped her avoid a long hospitalization and she was able to go home after an overnight stay.”
Robinson completed the cardiac rehabilitation program at Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital and this summer she sold her house in Newport and is moving to the valley to be closer to her children and grandchildren who live in Corvallis and Albany. She is especially looking forward to being able to help her son and daughter‑in‑law with their young daughters, ages 2 and 4.
“Now I can pick them up and play with them and push them on the swing,” Robinson said. “It is just those little things that you take for granted that I am able to do now.”
Samaritan Heart Center provides a wide range of advanced cardiology and cardiac surgery services, serving Benton, Lincoln and Linn counties. Its affiliation with Stanford Health Care provides access to even more life‑saving cardiac procedures for local patients. For more information, visit samhealth.org/Heart or call 888‑263‑6092.Read more stories from Samaritan patients with heart-related conditions who have graciously shared their experiences with us.