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Nancy: If you take the oxygen away from me and I’m up and walking around I become dizzy, very short of breath and my lips start to get nice and blue. I feel like I have a sumo wrestler sitting on my chest.
Nancy: So my eighty-three-year-old mother has been taking care of me for the past two years.
Nancy's Mother: We are making foo yong.
Nancy: When I came into the hospital a year ago I did have two clots in my right lung but we didn’t know that there was more going on.
Nancy: What I have is patent foramen ovale or PFO, basically a hole in the heart, from the left side to the right side, the oxygenated and the deoxygenated blood are mixing. And I start losing my oxygen.
I could go on living the rest of my life and never close up the hole in my heart. But where’s my quality of life?
Dr. Nassir Azimi, Interventional Cardiologist: Knock, knock.
Dr. Azimi: This is Dr. Dimitri Sherev, OK?
Dr. Dimitri Sherev, Interventional Cardiologist: Hi, nice to meet you.
Nancy: Oh, it’s so nice to meet you.
Dr. Sherev: Yes, nice to meet you.
Nancy: The other day I went to…to change the sheets on my bed. It took me three hours.
Dr. Azimi: There are lots of people with PFOs but they don’t have platypnea-orthodeoxia. It’s a very rare syndrome. It’s been around for about a hundred years. But most of the literature on it has been in existence for the last 5 to 10 years.
We have an option of doing something risky, but with benefits.
Nancy: They’re going to go in through a vein in my leg, all the way up into my heart. Once they get the device over the hole they open it like an umbrella. Then they tighten it down.
Over the next six months my body’s going to build a new heart wall. I know in my heart of heart I’m in the right place.
Dr. Azimi: I’ll see you in the hospital.
Nurse: You ready?
Nancy: I am.
Nurse: I’m going to call the floor and let them know that you’re on your way up.
Dr. Azimi: My patients want caring, and caring isn’t always a diagnosis, you know. Caring can sometimes be that hug, you know. I hug my patients….
Dr. Azimi: Once she’s all sedated we’re going to confirm that the PFO will tolerate being closed. Then we go ahead with our device, deploy it to make sure that it’s in correct position, close the PFO and then come out and close everything.
We’re doing the PFO closure.
Dr. Sherev: Let’s have the probe please.
Dr. Azimi: Dr. Sherev is working on doing the trans-esophageal echo.
Male: Right there.
Dr. Sherev: That was classic.
Dr. Azimi: Oh, this is beautiful.
Dr. Sherev: OK, just hold the probe, please.
Dr. Azimi: It all fits the syndrome. We’re on the right track.
Dr. Sherev: All right, this is the device that will go in. It’s called a CardioSEAL Septal Occluder. This is what we deliver the device through. I’m just going to have to load it on. OK, that’s it. There it is. Push it in.
Dr. Azimi: We’re putting a catheter in her groin.
Dr. Sherev: Yeah, that’s it. That’s it right there.
Dr. Azimi: So that’s our catheter across into the heart. OK, here’s our device going to be coming up.
Dr. Sherev: OK, there it is.
Dr. Azimi: So that spider that you see there is the device now.
Dr. Sherev: I’m okay with deploying it here. Look how nice it sits now.
Dr. Azimi: It’s gorgeous, Dimitri.
Dr. Sherev: All right, I’m happy with its position.
Dr. Azimi: Yes I’ll give you a high five, Dimitri, all right.
Dr. Sherev: The ultimately proof will be if she comes back in…in a month and says, "Dr. Azimi, I don’t have to use oxygen anymore."
Dr. Azimi: Everything went very smoothly, OK. We put the closure device in, there was no complications.
Nancy's Mother: Oh, it’s just so good to talk to you.
Dr. Azimi: Yes it’s great. She’s going to do well, OK.
Nancy's Mother: Thank you.
Dr. Azimi: All right, you take care.
Nancy's Mother: Bless you.
Dr. Azimi: Thanks.
Nancy: The last time you saw me I was hooked to oxygen 24 hours a day. And now look at the difference. I have my life. I…I can walk around without having to drag an oxygen tank.
The real excitement for me came when they finally were able to stand me up for the first time…and my oxygen level without any oxygen mask was a 100 percent.
And Dr. Azimi was jumping around. It was great.
Dr. Azimi gave me the option of going to the Mayo Clinic or some famous place to have it closed. But they weren’t the ones that diagnosed it. They weren’t the ones that figured out what was going on with my heart when no one else could.
Now that it’s been a year my body has basically built a new heart wall over the device.
And I cook now. I got a crepe pan from my mother for Christmas and I’m back making my cheesecakes again. I love to cook for people. I make a mean raspberry coulis.