Published 4/1/2014

Photo1_DSCN1673.jpgIf life is like a box of chocolates, then saving a life is like a heart shape box of chocolates. That’s exactly what Ed Pfannkoch of Manchester brought with him on a recent check-up with his doctors at Catholic Medical Center’s Cardiac Center.

“This candy box is almost as big as Dr. Flynn’s heart,” Ed said with a smile as he posed for a photo with interventional cardiologist, James Flynn. MD, FACC and the Director of the Cardiac Catherization Laboratory and Interventional Cardiology at CMC.

Ed Pfannkoch is something of a celebrity at CMC. He was the first patient to undergo a brand new procedure called Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement or TAVR. It saved Ed’s life.

The Manchester man suffers from aortic stenosis, or valve disease, which is the cause of more than 25,000 U.S. deaths every year. Seven percent of people over 65 have the disease. The five year survival rate for untreated symptomatic patients is just 3%. Ed was feeling the effects of the disease every day.

“I couldn’t do anything, I would walk down to the end of my driveway, which is steep and long and I had no breath left.”

For many years, doctors had few options to help patients like Ed. Those with aortic stenosis are often too sick to handle major surgery. But TAVR is a non-invasive surgical technique that uses advanced technology to offer a new answer. The first commercially approved valve for TAVR surgery in the U.S. became available late 2011.