A combined medical and surgical team at Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital in Durban reached a KwaZulu-Natal medical milestone by completing their 100th transcatheter aortic valve intervention (TAVI) procedure — a potentially life-saving operation in which diseased heart valves are replaced with artificial valves.
Interventional cardiologist, Dr Jaivadan Patel together with cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr Keith Odayan, and their team at the hospital completed their landmark 100th TAVI procedure on Monday, 12 November. According to Dr Odayan, the procedure — an intricate minimally invasive intervention used as an alternative to open-heart valve replacement surgery in compromised patients — was successfully performed on 82-year-old Durban resident, Mr Vernie Pautz.
“Netcare congratulates Dr’s Patel, Odayan and their team at Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital on the completion of their 100th TAVI procedure,” commented Jacques Du Plessis, the managing director of the Netcare hospital division.
“TAVI is an intricate procedure requiring a high level of training, expertise and supporting technology to perform. The procedure is also often the last hope for patients who, for one reason or another, are not strong and healthy enough to survive open-heart valve replacement surgery,” he added.
“The highly experienced team at the hospital, which is led by interventional cardiologist, Dr Jaivadan Patel and cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr Odayan have been performing the procedure for close on a decade. During this time they have consistently achieved outstanding clinical outcomes, and saved the lives of many of these highly compromised patients,” he added.
“The TAVI centre at Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital is currently the only dedicated facility of its kind in KwaZulu-Natal, and is one of just a few such facilities in South Africa. It follows that this centre is also the first in the province to achieve such a milestone, and we at Netcare believe that they deserve every recognition.”
Dr Patel and Dr Odayan, both of whom have been instrumental in developing the TAVI service at the hospital, said that they were most gratified that the team had attained this milestone, and thanked all of the doctors and staff members who had played a role in the establishment of the centre.
“It is not commonly known that this highly specialised procedure has been available for patients right here in KwaZulu-Natal for the last nine years. However, for reasons unknown, some of these patients who require a TAVI procedure have been referred to facilities in other provinces for treatment. This is despite the fact that these individuals often suffer from multiple underlying other health problems and, in many cases, are not fit to travel,” added Dr Odayan.
“It is therefore most pleasing for the members of the TAVI team at the hospital to have made some local medical history and be acknowledged for our efforts in this way. We are all looking forward to assisting patients requiring this advanced, minimally invasive surgical intervention into the future.”
According to Dr Odayan, TAVI involves replacing a diseased heart valve with an artificial heart valve that is usually made from biological material from cattle. Undertaken using catheters via small incisions through the chest or groin, TAVI is considerably less invasive than open-heart surgery, and is indicated for patients whose health is compromised to the extent that they may not survive conventional open-heart surgery.
“Many of these patients are older people and for them TAVI is the only safe and viable means of replacing their diseased and dysfunctional heart valves and improving lifestyle. Among the other advantages offered by the TAVI procedure over open-heart surgery is that patients tend to suffer fewer complications and are able to recover much more quickly after the operation,” he observes.
Asked how the centre’s 100th TAVI procedure had gone, Dr Odayan said that it had proceeded smoothly, and the team was “delighted” with the outcome. The patient, Mr Pautz, spent less than 24 hours in the hospital’s intensive care unit following the procedure before being transferred back to the general ward.
Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital’s general manager, Heinrich Venter, points out that that the TAVI team at the facility were among the very first healthcare professionals in South Africa to be trained in the procedure.
“The first TAVIs were completed here in Durban, as well as in Johannesburg and Cape Town in 2009, as part of a Netcare-backed training programme to introduce this important procedure to the country,” he reflects.
Dr Patel and Dr Odayan, as well as interventional cardiologist, Dr Mohamed Hassim; cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr David Shama; echo cardiographer, Mr Reventheran Pillay and anaesthetist Dr’s Akoojee, Mahomedy and Seedat all underwent training in TAVI both in Switzerland and locally.
“These healthcare professionals still form the basis of the highly experienced TAVI team at the hospital today, and they continue to achieve internationally comparable outcomes for their patients,” adds Venter.
“The hospital thanks all of the medical professionals and staff who have worked tirelessly over the past number of years to make the TAVI centre such a success, and for providing this important lifeline to patients who require it,” he concludes.
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