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Gates Vascular Institute Celebrates Landmark 2,000th Transcatheter Heart Valve Procedure

Updated: 3/11/2021

Minimally invasive treatment option revolutionized cardiac medicine, replacing open-heart surgery for many patients


L to R: Lorie Mariano, senior director of cardiovascular services; Awad El-Ashry, MD, cardiothoracic surgeon; Sue DeMarco, NP; Bob Nesselbush, chief executive officer at Kaleida Health; David Hughes, MD, chief medical officer at Kaleida Health; Jim Gillen, the team’s 2,000th TAVR patient; Vijay Iyer, MD, PhD, director of the structural heart program; Rose Hansen, DNP, structural heart program coordinator; Bill Morris, MD, interventional cardiologist

The structural heart team at Gates Vascular Institute recently completed their 2,000th transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedure, a significant innovation that has shifted valve replacement from operating room to catheterization lab, dramatically reducing procedure and recovery times as well as mortality risk for thousands of patients with heart valve disease. 

"I feel like a new man," said Jim Gillen, 94, a retired land surveyor and World War II U.S. Navy Air Corps veteran who lives in Warsaw, N.Y. Last month, after experiencing symptoms of shortness of breath, low blood pressure and severe lethargy, Gillen went to the emergency room at Wyoming County Community Health System before being transferred to Gates Vascular Institute. On February 18, Gillen became Gates Vascular Institute’s 2,000th patient to undergo the TAVR procedure. 

Vijay Iyer, MD, PhD, interventional cardiologist and medical director of the Structural Heart Program at Kaleida Health, attached a new valve to a catheter and guided it to Gillen’s heart through his femoral artery. The new valve was placed inside the diseased valve and opened like an umbrella, pushing aside the old valve and providing a new, clear pathway for blood flow.

After TAVR, patients like Gillen typically recover in the hospital for 24 hours, versus several days or more after open-heart surgery. The risk of complications from the procedure are low and the valves have proven durable over time. 

"I feel so fortunate to have a world class hospital within reach. The team saved my life and has given me the most wonderful gift of all: time with my family," Gillen added.  

According to the most recent New York State Department of Health data, the team at Gates Vascular Institute leads the way in TAVR procedure volumes, performing more than any other hospital in the region with the highest success and lowest mortality rates.

"This milestone could not have been reached without our patients, who put their trust in us as we work together to pioneer a better way to treat heart valve disease," said Iyer. "Our multidisciplinary team at Gates Vascular Institute works hard to apply extensive research and the most advanced treatment options for our patients suffering from cardiovascular disease."

Gates Vascular Institute was one of a select group of U.S. hospitals utilizing this technology in 2012, and continues to be active in clinical trials for minimally invasive aortic, mitral and tricuspid valve interventions today. 

"TAVR has overtaken surgery as the preferred method of aortic valve replacement in the U.S. TAVR is an option for patients in all risk categories unless they need concomitant coronary artery bypass graft or aortic root replacement," according to Iyer.

Technology has evolved since the first transcatheter aortic valve replacement at Gates Vascular Institute in 2012, resulting in smaller more malleable devices that are easier for physicians to deliver and implant. The team at Gates Vascular Institute, led by Iyer, completed its first five hundred TAVR procedures between 2012 and 2016. In less than two years, the team doubled the number of successful procedures to one thousand in August 2018.

"At Gates Vascular Institute we have been pioneering transcatheter valve therapy since its inception and we are still innovating the application of this technology," notes Iyer. "These newer treatment options have added years and quality to countless patients' lives and offers hope for others as we continue to work on effective nonsurgical therapies."

Other notable achievements for Gates Vascular Institute’s Structural Heart Program team include:

  • Gates Vascular Institute, in collaboration with UB’s Clinical & Translational Research team, is currently enrolling patients in several clinical trials for aortic, tricuspid and mitral valve diseases.

  • In 2020, U.S. News and World Report named Buffalo General Medical Center/Gates Vascular Institute a high performing facility in procedures for TAVR, heart failure, abdominal aortic aneurysm repair, aortic valve surgery and heart bypass surgery.

  • Gates Vascular Institute was the first facility in Western New York to perform transcatheter aortic valve replacement procedures in 2012. The latest statistics from the New York State Department of Health reveal that the team at Gates Vascular Institute still leads the way in TAVR procedure volumes, performing more than any other hospital in the region with the highest success and lowest mortality rates.

  • According to the most recent New York State Department of Health data, Gates Vascular Institute performed five times more TAVR procedures than any other hospital in Western New York and more than twice that of hospitals in nearby Rochester, N.Y. 

To learn more about TAVR and Gates Vascular Institute’s top ranked cardiovascular care, click here, call (716) 859-2401 or email the team at StructuralHeartCenter@kaleidahealth.org.