East Texas man receives breakthrough heart surgery


LUFKIN, Texas (KETK) – Buddy Zeagler, a Lufkin resident, needed a valve replacement and was worried about the effects of open-heart surgery.

Zeagler’s doctors at Baylor Scott and White the Heart Health Hospital in Plano told him about a clinical trial involving a surgery that was previously only used for elderly patients or those with limited options.

The surgery is called transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), and is less invasive than traditional open-heart surgery which can take months of recovery time.

“This is a momentous shift to have a disease that’s historically been mainly treated by open-heart surgery now treated with a catheter-based approach,” said Dr. Mack, MD, co-principal Investigator of the PARTNER 3 Trial and medical director of cardiovascular service line for Baylor Scott & White Health. 

Zeagler was told he qualified for the trial because he wasn’t symptomatic and was taken into surgery just a few weeks later.

The operation went through his femur and was able to correct the valve issue without cutting open his chest.

“I was able to drive home with my wife the day after the surgery and I was back at work that same week,” said Zeagler.

The doctors at Baylor Scott and White Health said the TAVR operation would have less downtime, have less risk of infection and require less time spent in the hospital.

“And you’re able to get back into your routine you’re able to continue to be productive, you’re less dependent on caregivers caretakers,” said Zeagler.

Less time recovering at the doctor means medical bills could be lower, and the TAVR surgery could be covered by insurance.

The FDA recently approved TAVR after the successful PARTNER 3 and Evolut LR clinical trial.

“This approval underscores the importance and value of this research and demonstrates our commitment to improve care options for patients with aortic stenosis,” said Dr. Mack.

Doctors said this is the result of 15 years of research and should help thousands of patients in the near future.

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