4 DignityHealth.org/central-california | Winter 2018–19 Wilma Romero, 93, has a big heart and a busy Monday schedule. Every Monday for the past 24 years, she’s worked alongside other members of Sewing Service, a volunteer group at St. Joseph’s Medical Center. They make stuffed animals and other items for hospital patients, many of whom are children. “It makes you feel good to know that the children love the little animals,” Wilma says. Wilma also does genealogy work on Mondays. It’s an active life, so it helps that she’s always felt healthy. Until Feb. 25, 2017, that is. “I was sitting on a couch, and I just got so that I couldn’t breathe,” she recalls. An ambulance rushed Wilma to St. Joseph’s, where doctors discovered that, among other heart problems, she had acute heart failure brought on by severe aortic stenosis. That’s a condition in which a faulty heart valve doesn’t open enough to let blood properly flow through. Without treatment, severe aortic stenosis can become life-threatening. No open-heart surgery required After extensive testing, it was determined that Wilma would be a candidate for transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR)—a newer minimally invasive treatment. Unlike regular valve surgery, TAVR does not require a large chest incision (open-heart surgery). Instead, specialists at St. Joseph’s insert a catheter into a small opening, usually in a leg artery, and deliver a new valve to the heart. Feeling ‘good and alive again’ Specialized heart valve surgery gets beloved volunteer back doing what she loves best TAVR milestones at St. Joseph’s April 2016 TAVR program launches in a new hybrid cardiac suite. June 23, 2016 First two patients receive TAVR. Fall 2018 100th patient undergoes TAVR. After her TAVR procedure, Wilma Romero is feeling good and back to volunteering.