Jenny receives ultimate lifeline at St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital


Jodie (Jenny’s daughter) and Jenny

Mackay resident Jenny Kearns was so short of breath from heart problems she was transported to Brisbane’s St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital by the Royal Flying Doctors Service (RFDS) and was fighting for her life.

St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital (SAWMH) Cardiologist Dr Karl Poon became aware of how unwell Jenny was and organised an immediate transfer. Jenny was a previous patient after having had open heart surgery in 2016.

“Thankfully Jenny took her health seriously and presented to the Mackay Base Hospital emergency department to seek medical treatment.

"Jenny was becoming gravely ill and we know that when a valve replacement fails, it can fail very rapidly,” Dr Poon said.

She arrived via RFDS within 24 hours.

SAWMH Cardiologist Alex Incani analysed Jenny’s scans on her arrival to the hospital.

"In just a matter of days, scans showed her heart struggling even more and all her heart valves failing as well," Dr Alex Incani said.

"If there was ever an emergency TAVI this was it," Dr Incani said.

TAVI is used to treat patients with aortic stenosis – narrowing of the hearts aortic valve.

Aortic stenosis prevents normal blood flow through the heart and is most often caused by age-related calcification, but can be caused by a birth defect, rheumatic fever, or radiation therapy.

Jenny had the procedure awake, as her fragile status could not tolerate general anesthesia, which is how the procedure normally occurs. Jenny had her heart valve replaced through a 5mm groin hole.

"The fact is she probably would not have survived open heart surgery again, her risk of dying from the procedure was about 30 times our usual patients," Dr Poon said.

A week later she was back home attending her garden.

The SAWMH team has performed more than 500 TAVI procedures making it one of the most experienced teams in Australia.

For patients who have been diagnosed with aortic stenosis but are elderly or not well enough to have surgery, TAVI provides a better option.


TAVI team celebrate their 500th procedure milestone in February 2020

Channel 7 News - St Andrews Hospital, TAVI Surgery