Health Update for Father Michael

The replacement of his aortic valve on Tuesday was successful, and it was later determined that a pacemaker was also required.  That was done on Thursday afternoon.  I returned from the hospital on Friday afternoon, and I am so very grateful for all your prayers. 

The valve replacement was done with a procedure called a “TAVR” (Trans-catheter Aortic Valve Replacement).  Rather than open-heart surgery, the new valve was placed by means of a catheter inserted in the femoral artery and threaded up to the heart.  At the end of the catheter is the new valve, compressed—much like a stent that is used to open a blocked artery.  Once carefully positioned, it is expanded and pushes aside the old, diseased valve, fixes the new valve in place, and the new valve immediately starts working. 

The procedural is more complex than it might seem, involving more than a dozen persons in the operating room.  Also, a temporary external pacemaker is installed, since the procedure often interrupts the normal nerve signals that control the heartbeat.  The leads for the pacemaker are inserted through the carotid artery of the neck and threaded to the heart.  Most often, after a day or so, the heart resumes its normal rhythm, but if not, a permanent pacemaker is required. 

It was determined on Wednesday afternoon that, while some normal function was returning, it was unreliable, and a permanent pacemaker was required.  This was installed on Thursday afternoon.  A traditional pacemaker is installed below the left collarbone using a 2-to-3-inch incision, with leads extending to the heart.  However, I received the very new technology of pacemaker installed which does not use leads, but instead has two very small components that are inserted into the heart itself.  This new type of pacemaker should provide even less impact on activities, a fact for which I am so very grateful.

I am very appreciative of everyone’s prayers for my continued recovery and freedom from any future complications.  While I will not be celebrating Mass this weekend, I expect to be able to celebrate Mass with the school children on their last day of school, Wednesday, June 5, at 8 AM.