Couple recover from heart surgeries together

By: Ashley Harding

There's a new heart procedure which will help save lives.  Best of all, it's an option for people too sick to have standard heart surgery.

Roy and Jeanette Hanson had their heart surgeries five weeks ago within a few days of each other right here in Lincoln.  Roy had traditional heart valve replacement surgery.  But Jeanette had this new procedure.  They both say they've never felt better.

For 89-year-old Roy and his wife Jeanette, walking together has gotten a lot easier in the last few weeks.

Life had been good to the Marysville, Kansas, couple throughout their 66-year marriage.

But that all could've come to an end after they learned some shocking news.

It turns out husband and wife were both suffering from a disease which attacks the heart valve.  The couple was rushed to Lincoln for observation.

Jeanette said, “We felt bad for each other.  I think we felt, you know, I felt bad on account of him and he felt bad on account of me.  But here we are now.”

Doctors decided Roy was a good candidate for traditional heart valve replacement surgery–where they go in through the chest.  But Jeanette was too sick and her only option was to have this new, less invasive procedure called transcather aortic valve replacement surgery.

It's where doctors insert a catheter through an artery in the groin.  Once it reaches the right spot, an artificial valve is expanded and begins working.

Dr. Steve Martin, a cardiologist, said, “Since you're not cutting into the chest and violating the chest they have a much better chance of recovering because their respiratory system is not compromised.  Their lungs get better faster.”

The surgery has only been available in the U.S. since last November.  In Nebraska, Jeanette is the fifth patient to have it.

She says having her surgery and recovering alongside her husband Ron has made things all the better for both of them.

Ron said, “Everybody said, you guys have done everything together.  You had to this together too, huh?”

Jeanette said, “So that's the way we did it. The hospital together, here together, going home together.”

Anyone who wants to learn more about this procedure is urged to get in touch with the Nebraska Heart Institute.

They're the only group who performs it in the state.

As for Roy and Jeanette, they get to go home tomorrow.