With help from another hockey fan, the Fleischners made it to their car, and Mrs. Fleischner called 911 for an ambulance. When they got to UPMC Shadyside, Mr. Fleischner’s longtime cardiologist, Dr. Lawrence Adler, had left him a phone message in the Emergency Department.
“You’re not going home tonight,” he told them.
Mr. Fleischner’s problem was aortic stenosis, a narrowing of the valve opening in the heart. The most common and most serious valve disease in Western countries, aortic stenosis restricts blood flow to the body’s largest artery, the aorta, which carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart to all other organs.
Dr. Adler had previously diagnosed Mr. Fleischner’s condition, explaining that at some point, his heart valve would need to be replaced. He also told his patient that the latest therapy was a procedure that allowed surgeons to repair or replace a defective heart valve without having to open the chest. But at that time, TAVR (Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement) was not yet performed in Pittsburgh.
Fast-forward to 2016. TAVR now had come to UPMC Shadyside, and Mr. Fleischner benefited from it. A cheerful and charming retired U. S. Steel manager and strong supporter of the Neighborhood Academy, he says that after his TAVR procedure he “started feeling like myself again immediately. There was no pain. I went home in three days. I even have a warranty card that guarantees my new valve for 15 years. After that, I understand that they can put another new one inside this one!” He celebrated his 90th birthday in July.