In 2013, Sister Theresa Stickley felt exhausted and out of breath as she walked the halls of the Queen of Peace Monastery in Squamish, BC. A diseased aortic valve in her 83-year-old heart meant it was pumping only a fraction of the blood that her body needed to function properly.

“When they told me I had to have an open-heart (surgery), I said, ‘Never,’” Sister Theresa told The Province newspaper. “I’m 83 and I’ve lived a really full life and loved God with all my heart, so hey, I’m ready to go.”

But thanks to a revolutionary new procedure developed in Vancouver, Sister Theresa never had to go through the trauma of open-heart surgery. Dr. David Wood, a cardiologist at VGH, and Dr. John Webb of St. Paul’s Hospital have pioneered a minimally invasive heart valve technology called Vancouver Protocol transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). It only requires local anesthetic, allowing patients like Sister Theresa to be awake during the 45-minute procedure and walking within hours. This results in 80% of TAVR patients going home the next day.

Because of Vancouver Protocol TAVR and her newly repaired heart, Sister Theresa can carry on the good work of her church.

“The doctor told me I was very close to death and had only a couple of months to live,” she said in an interview with the National Post. “I was walking right after surgery.”

Source: CBC News, The Province and the National Post