John Bahadorani, M.D., center, with patient Richard Caron and wife Mary. Richard’s heart was too weak for open-heart surgery, but the TAVR procedure now has his heart functioning normally.

One minute, Richard Caron was out walking his daughter’s dogs. The next — he was passed out, lying on the curb.

It was February 2018, and Richard didn’t know it at the time, but he was in congestive heart failure.

After slowly making it back to his daughter’s house, he was taken to the emergency room at MemorialCare Saddleback Medical Center, where he got the shocking news.

“My heart was so weak that open-heart surgery would carry a high risk,” said Richard, 76, who lives with his wife in Laguna Niguel. In fact, he had a number of health issues that would make surgery difficult, including heart failure, coronary artery disease, diabetes, and severe aortic valve stenosis, which means the main valve of the heart wasn’t functioning well.

“At the time, Richard had a heart function of 35 percent (normal is 55 percent or higher) as well as a blockage in his main coronary artery,” said John Bahadorani, M.D., an interventional cardiologist at Saddleback Medical Center.

With open-heart surgery too high a risk, Dr. Bahadorani recommended less invasive procedures, inserting a stent to open up the left main artery along with transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR, which have excellent patient outcomes and faster recovery time.

During a TAVR procedure, a synthetic valve is pushed up via an artery in the leg up to the heart, and positioned across the patient’s own aortic valve. It is then deployed, thereby pushing the patient’s failing valve outward, effectively replacing it.

Remarkably, for Richard, the procedure only took about two hours. He spent a couple of hours in recovery, and then was moved to intensive care. He was up and walking the next day, and amazingly, two days later he was back home.

“The cardiac team at Saddleback Medical Center was wonderful,” said Mary, Richard’s wife. “I’ve never met such nice people. It was a great experience, and it saved our lives.”

Today Richard and Mary, who have been married for 54 years, are especially thankful for the care they received at Saddleback Medical Center; it’s allowing them to enjoy precious time with their four grandchildren.

This type of exceptional care and advanced technology is made possible because of our generous donors, who enable skilled physicians like Dr. Bahadorani to save lives.

Saddleback Medical Center, a cardiac receiving center, is one of only three hospitals in Orange County with a TAVR program. Several certifications are required to establish a maintain this problem.

Aortic stenosis is one of the most common problems associated with heart disease, so it’s comforting to know that this procedure is being performed right in our own backyard, with excellent outcomes.


Image of the the artificial valve that may be inserted through an artery in the leg to the diseased aortic valve during a TAVR procedure.

During the TAVR procedure, the artificial valve usually is inserted through an artery in the leg to the diseased aortic valve. It is expanded to replace the patient’s own valve.

“This has really changed the game in how we look at the treatment of valvular heart disease,” said Dr. Bahadorani.

Opening later this year will be a hybrid operating suite, also funded by generous donors. This means the TAVR procedure will have the optimal setting should an operation become necessary.

Over the years, Saddleback Medical Center has continued to pave the way in offering cutting-edge procedures performed by brilliant physicians, leading to longer, healthier lives for our patients.

A tax-deductible gift today will ensure patients and friends like Richard will have access to “game-changing” medical treatments and procedures, like the TAVR.

Help us continue that trailblazing mindset with a gift today. We will appreciate any amount you are able to give.


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