7 February 2024

Pensioner goes home within hours of having heart valve replacement surgery

An 86-year-old man has gone home in record time after having his heart valve replaced without the need for a general anaesthetic as part of a pioneering 'light touch' TAVI (transcatheter aortic valve implantation) service.

Donald stands with members of the TAVI team in the cath lab at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals moments before going home


An 86-year-old man who was able to go home on the same day as having a heart valve replacement at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has said he can’t believe how good he feels just days after undergoing the pioneering ‘light touch’ procedure.

Donald Raybould, from Chesterfield, went into the Northern General Hospital for the minimally invasive TAVI (transcatheter aortic valve implantation) procedure at 7.30am on Tuesday 30 January and went home five hours post-procedure.

The pioneering 'light touch' TAVI service, which was introduced by heart doctors and nurses at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals last year, enables patients aged 75 and over who have severe heart valve disease and who cannot undergo open-heart surgery due to their advancing age to have their heart valves replaced without the need for a general anaesthetic.

Patients typically go home 2-3 days after their procedure and have a shorter recovery period, but Donald made it home in record time.

"I went in at 7.30am with my little bag of stuff and I was expecting to stay in for at least a couple of days but whilst I was lying flat during the procedure the surgeon said, ‘with a little bit of luck we’ll get you home tonight’. I was amazed.”

A few hours later, the granddad-of-three who was diagnosed with aortic stenosis (a severe narrowing of the heart valve) a year ago, had recovered enough to sit up and immediately noticed a difference.

“I had been lying flat after the surgery for a while, but when I finally got up and the bleeding had stopped, I felt so much better. I was amazed at how good I felt.”

Donald remained in the recovery area of the Northern General Hospital’s Chesterman unit for a further few hours, but thanks to the light sedation and minimal access approach to heart, he was fit and well enough to go home, and discharged by 5pm.

Praise for specialist TAVI team at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals

Since returning home he has continued to feel the benefits of the ‘light touch’ TAVI, with the retired builder having nothing but praise for the specialist team of doctors, nurses, radiographers and physiologists at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals:

“I’ve always been active, I do my gardening and my hobby is rebuilding old motorbikes in the garage, but my narrowed heart valve meant I could not work in the garden or fix up my beloved piles of rust. It’s only been a couple of days since my op, but I feel so much better. Before my op I’d been stopping twice to go upstairs or to the bathroom, but now I can go upstairs without any problem. It’s given me my life back.

“I couldn’t be more grateful to the TAVI team at the Northern General Hospital. They looked after me as if I were a prince. Every one of them has been fabulous – from the nurses on the ward to the surgical team. They have all been absolutely brilliant.”

TAVI is a relatively newer keyhole heart procedure which has been shown to add another 10 to 15 quality years of life to elderly patients with severe heart valve disease. This is important because left untreated, survival rates for elderly patients with this form of the disease are worse than some cancers in this population group.

Heart valve disease also remains ‘silent’ in many patients – meaning symptoms are not picked up on until they are at their severest.

The light sedation is particularly beneficial for older patients who are more vulnerable to the risks of serious complications from a general anaesthetic. It also allows for a shorter post-operative recovery time and reduced hospital stay.

Interventional Cardiologist Dr Muhammad A. Rahman at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “Donald has been a fantastic patient, and we are delighted to have got him home on the same day as his ‘light touch’ heart valve op.

“The whole TAVI team effort to get elderly heart patients like Donald home, recovered, and able to live their life again, has been phenomenal and whilst not everyone will be able to go home on the same day as their ‘light touch’ TAVI we hope to keep pushing the boundaries and using our specialist skills to transform the lives of hundreds of elderly patients in the region.”

To perform TAVI, cardiologists first make a small incision in the top of the leg to guide a small tube known as a catheter through to the arteries and into the heart. The new valve can then be positioned on top of the existing faulty valve which is simply pushed aside.

The ‘light touch’ TAVI service is currently offered to patients aged 75 and over with severe heart disease.


Photo: Donald Raybould (second on the right) with the TAVI team at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals just before he was discharged and



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