When Mary Lynne Knighten was diagnosed with aortic stenosis — a potentially life-threatening heart condition characterized by the narrowing of the aortic valve opening — she was surprised. She exercised regularly and felt perfectly healthy.
She soon began experiencing extreme fatigue, and had to nap several times a day. She was often out of breath after simple tasks. Even standing for long periods became a challenge. “I was worried I was going to die,” says Mary Lynne.
At the recommendation of her physician, Mary Lynne turned to Azhil (Alex) Durairaj, MD, our medical director of cardiology, for help. Though her condition was serious, he made Mary Lynne feel comfortable. “Dr. Durairaj treated me like a partner, and talked with me about my options and prognosis,” she says. “It’s a testament to the hospital’s commitment to patient-centered care.”
It was decided that Mary Lynne was a good candidate for TAVR, a minimally invasive alternative to open heart surgery. In February 2020, she underwent the procedure here. “The doctors and nurses made me feel like I was their only patient,” she says.
Because Mary Lynne had an underlying medical condition, she stayed overnight in our intensive care unit to be monitored for potential complications following the procedure. She notes that a nursing assistant got her soup from the cafeteria in the middle of the night, and that a nurse positioned her for comfort. Her procedure fell on Ash Wednesday, so the team made sure Mary Lynne, who is Catholic, received ashes and blessings from one of our chaplains.
Today, Mary Lynne is back to doing what she loves. She can stand for longer periods to cook and work in her garden without getting winded, and is even exercising again.
“Dr. Durairaj and his whole team were fantastic,” she says. “Thank you to everyone at Huntington Hospital for saving my life.”
Offering a full spectrum of cardiology services, Huntington Hospital Heart and Vascular Center provides superior care, and we do it with heart. Find a cardiac surgeon that specializes in aortic stenosis at Huntington Hospital.