Heart Valve Repair Gives Senior Swimmer Several More Laps
September 21, 2023
Fay Porter dives into each day with a vigor that belies her 94 years and a major heart valve repair.
Like many seniors, she thought it was the normal course of aging to become unexpectedly out of breath at times. Despite macular degeneration that affected her eyesight, she maintained a daily swimming regimen and an active social life.
Then the Lakewood woman learned through a chance conversation with a health care professional that Alan Markowitz, MD, a renowned cardiac surgeon specializing in minimally invasive valve repairs, was not averse to operating on active older patients under the right circumstances.
Dr. Markowitz found Fay was the perfect candidate for a repair of her tricuspid valve and of a defect in her atrial septum, which he noted was a relatively unusual case given those were her only cardiac issues at 89.
“Because she was so active and robust despite her macular degeneration, we proceeded with surgical repair, which normally carries a very high mortality rate because usually tricuspid valve regurgitation is a marker for many other problems in the heart,” said Dr. Markowitz, Cardiac Surgical Director of UH Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute at UH Ahuja Medical Center and the Marcella “Dolly” Haugh Chair in Valvular Surgery.
“She tolerated her surgery quite well, and continues to have that ‘joie de vivre’ that has seen her through the fifth anniversary of her surgery.”
Grateful for the gift of reinvigorated life, Fay reached out to Dr. Markowitz on her surgical anniversary to thank him for his skillful surgical care. She said Dr. Markowitz’s work to fix a faulty valve and a hole in her heart were “a very delightful experience.”
Doris Seymour, a senior provider administrative assistant in Dr. Markowitz’s office, scheduled Fay’s testing and procedure. She always found her upbeat and positive, and grateful for the clinical excellence as well as the compassionate care of the team. Doris was touched that the patient would even call occasionally just to see how she and the doctor were doing.
“She expressed her thanks and sincere gratitude to Dr. Markowitz for giving her this additional time in life via surgery, and for my listening ear,” said Doris. “I would remind her that Dr. Markowitz's job was made so much easier because she was such a willing spirit. At 94, she seems to be as spry as ever. Of course, she probably could run circles around us all!
“Thank God for patients like Ms. Porter who we strive to serve and give a better quality of life through our care.”
Ten laps of backstroke in her pool are, once again, a breeze for Fay.
“I am kind of spry for my age,” she admits with a chuckle. “I’ve got a new swimsuit, and I’m looking forward to using it. The heart’s still perking away real good.”