In 2012, with help from the cardiac team at Sharp Memorial Hospital, William Boulter, then age 85, made a decision that would help extend his life expectancy. Due to severe aortic stenosis — when the heart’s aortic valve reduces blood flow from the heart to the body — he had breathing issues, which severely affected his quality of life.
Fortunately, Mr. Boulter met Dr. Raghava Gollapudi, a Sharp Community Medical Group interventional cardiologist affiliated with Sharp Memorial. Dr. Gollapudi has additional training in using catheters to treat cardiovascular issues. He examined Mr. Boulter and determined he was a good candidate for a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR).
“At the time, in 2012, the only other option for treating aortic stenosis was open-heart surgery, which can take up to three to six months for recovery,” says Dr. Gollapudi.
However, through the minimally invasive TAVR procedure, a small incision is made and a catheter is used to put in a valve replacement. Patients can benefit from a shorter hospital stay, as well as relief from symptoms, as the procedure helps to improve blood flow.
A new procedure offers a new lease on life
Mr. Boulter’s daughter Barbara, an intensive care unit nurse in North Carolina, initially wondered if he should get the TAVR procedure at a hospital closer to her. At the time, the TAVR procedure was a relatively new technology.
“I saw that my dad was in good hands at Sharp Memorial, though,” says Barbara. “He trusted its cardiac team.”
The team included Annette Contasti, RN, MSN, a heart failure nurse specialist at Sharp Memorial, who says Mr. Boulter was the 13th patient who received the TAVR procedure there. “Since then, we have performed over 900 cases,” she says.
In late 2012, Dr. Gollapudi performed the procedure with Dr. Robert Adamson, a Sharp Community Medical Group cardiothoracic surgeon affiliated with Sharp Memorial. With each passing month, Mr. Boulter’s health improved.
“I really appreciate the treatment I received and my Sharp care team took exceptional care of me,” says Mr. Boulter. “Annette was terrific with my follow-up and was truly a gem.”
Connections that last over the years — and miles
Two years later, Mr. Boulter attended a reception at Sharp Memorial to celebrate the completion of 100 TAVR procedures at the hospital. There, he spoke about his gratitude for Sharp and his improved quality of life.
“After that, I ended up moving to North Carolina in 2020, where I now live with my daughter,” he says. “I’m doing well, enjoying nature out here and spending time with family. Despite moving, I have kept in contact with Dr. Gollapudi and Annette over the years.”
Recently, Contasti visited Mr. Boulter and his daughter at their home, where they discussed how he is the longest living TAVR patient from Sharp Memorial. “Mr. Boulter will be celebrating his 96th birthday in November, which is remarkable,” says Contasti. “It was a big delight for me to stop by North Carolina while I was vacationing and visit him and Barbara.”
Dr. Gollapudi shares the same fondness that Contasti has for Mr. Boulter. “Working with Mr. Boulter was an absolute pleasure,” he says. “He has a great demeanor and attitude, and it is amazing knowing that TAVR helped him live 10 more years.”
For the news media: To talk with Dr. Gollapudi about this story, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.