Ayden man credits heart valve for saving his life

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – An Ayden man said he is thankful to get a second chance at life after receiving a new heart valve at Vidant Medical Center.

78-year-old Chester Page was brought to Vidant Medical Center back in December with what he described as indigestion, that led to trouble breathing. Eventually, doctors discovered there was a major problem with one of his heart valves, and it needed immediate replacement.

However, due to Page’s condition, open heart surgery wasn’t an option. Doctors then relied on a recent medical breakthrough called the transcatheter aortic valve replacment, or TAVR. TAVR ranges in size from about 20 millimeters to 29 millimeters, and has been successful since Vidant started using it a few years ago.

“The majority of these patients are originally not even qualified for surgery and they were not getting any therapy,” said Dr. Ramesh Daggubati, who performed the surgery on Page. “In fact, they were either being managed medically or dying.”

Page said he doesn’t remember much of what happened over the next few weeks, but is extremely grateful to still be alive.

“I saw the scar of course where he did the work, and I told him that he was my hero,” Page said.

In North Carolina, cardiovascular disease is a major problem. Heart disease and stroke are the 2nd and 4th leading cause of death in the state. In 2010, 23,232 North Carolinians died from it according to DHHS.

In the East, those numbers are even more staggering. Cardiovascular disease rates are four times higher in the East than the rest of the state.

Dr. Rony Shammas, a Vidant Cardiologist, explained why.

“Lack of good education, not having regular good medical follow-ups, and also our way of life here as far as what we eat,” Dr. Shammas said.

Since beginning to use TAVR in 2012, Vidant doctors estimate around 200 patients have undergone the procedure. They said many of those patients would be dead without it.

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