Heart Month at the Frankel Cardiovascular Center 2017

At the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center, every month is Heart Month. But during National Heart Month — February of each year — we take time to raise awareness about preventing the leading cause of death for both men and women and to research innovative new treatments and help our patients live their best lives. One of those, teen TAVR patient John-Daniel Johnson, is featured in the video above.

For more inspiring stories about our patients, click on any of the links below, or visit the Heart Health section on our Michigan Health Blog to meet more of those who are fighting heart disease up close and personal.

TAVR Heart Procedure Performed on a Teen, a Rarity

Sixteen years ago, he was a preemie missing two of the left chambers of his heart, and had to undergo multiple operations. Now, the North Carolina teenager is back to swimming and riding dirt bikes after a minimally invasive heart procedure this summer, which allowed him to avoid an open-heart surgery. It was the first of its kind conducted on someone his age at the
Frankel Cardiovasular Center. Watch the video above, or read more of John-Daniel's story.

Congestive Heart Failure and Transplant ‘a Gift and a Wake-Up Call’

U-M congestive heart failure and transplant patient Patrick Salem

Patrick Salem

Diagnosed with congestive heart failure in 2004 at age 29, an illness that eventually led to a heart transplant, Patrick Salem considers the experience a gift that motivated him to live the life he had always imagined. The seemingly healthy young man wasn’t concerned more than a decade ago when he went to see his general practitioner in response to flu-like symptoms, but a chest X-ray indicated an enlarged heart. Read more of Patrick's story.

Observe or Operate? When an Enlarged Aorta Requires Action

U-M heart patient Bob Stephens
Bob Stephens

How big is too big? When should I be worried? What does “watchful waiting” mean? Are there any early warning signs before it bursts? After learning that he had a total of five aortic enlargements, Bob Stephens had questions about his aortic disease. “It’s awfully scary,” says 72-year-old Stephens of Dexter, who in 2009 was diagnosed at the Frankel Cardiovascular Center, where his condition was closely monitored until surgery was required. Read more of Bob's story.

For Cardiac Success Story, Survival Starts with Self-Awareness

U-M heart patient Erin Sargent and two children
Erin Sargent

Erin Sargent is healthy and happy to be alive. The mother of two young children also wants to spread an important message: Listen to your body. Sargent, now 36, experienced daily fatigue and fever shortly after the delivery of her son more than five years ago, but her doctors couldn’t make a proper diagnosis.“I knew something was wrong,” recalls the resident of Canton, Michigan, “despite the fact that no one could determine what it was.” After enduring three months of symptoms, Sargent was ultimately diagnosed with infective endocarditis by her referring physician, infectious disease specialist James Gordon, M.D. Read more of Erin's story.

After Aortic Dissection and Intense Surgery, a ‘Miracle’

U-M aortic dissection patient Alan Wasserman and wife Donna
Alan and Donna Wasserman

The excruciating back pain is what Alan Wasserman, pictured with his wife, Donna, remembers most. He had finished a rigorous workout earlier that day in January 2008 and had gone home to relax. But when his back discomfort became persistent — and soon unbearable — the Ann Arbor resident, then 49, knew something was wrong. Fortunately, Donna was quick to react. She called for an ambulance that whisked her spouse to the University of Michigan hospital emergency room. Several tests and CT scans revealed a severe diagnosis: Wasserman was experiencing an aortic dissection that extended from his heart to his leg. Read more of Alan's story.

5 Years Later, ‘Life Is Good’ for One of Michigan’s First TAVR Patients

U-M TAVR patient Lois Metzger
Lois Metzger

At 82 years old, Lois Metzger is happy, healthy and full of energy. She’s also living proof of the life-changing benefits of transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). The procedure became available only five years ago, giving aortic stenosis patients a chance for a much-improved quality of life. Prior to TAVR, these patients had few options. Lois was one of the first TAVR patients at the Frankel Cardiovascular Center; today, more than 800 others have undergone the procedure. Read more of Lois' story.

Living for Years Without a Heart Is Now Possible

U-M artificial heart patient Stan Larkin
Stan Larkin

It sounds like a byproduct of science fiction: a synthetic, battery-powered device designed to replace the work of the body’s most crucial organ. But the equipment, known as the Total Artificial Heart, offers a lifeline for some of the most severe heart-failure cases.“That’s what the evolution of technology can do,” says Jonathan Haft, M.D. “You’re actually removing the heart and replacing it.” Haft pointed to his patient Stan Larkin, a 25-year-old with a rare form of cardiomyopathy who lived for 555 days — outside of the hospital — using a Total Artificial Heart before receiving a heart transplant in May 2016. “He’s absolutely thriving now.” Read more of Stan's story.

After TAVR, Prize-Winning Chicken Farmer Back at Work

U-M heart patient Gilbert Corss
Gilbert Corss


At 84 years old, Gilbert Corss isn’t interested in slowing down. And a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedure in 2013 is helping him stay active. A farmer in the small town of Vandalia, Michigan, Corss had warning signs of declining health. But his commitment to caring for his wife, who had dementia, kept him from seeing a doctor, as did his work in the fields rowing soybeans and raising hogs and prize chickens. After his wife died in 2012, Corss could no longer ignore his health issues, which included shortness of breath and poor circulation. Read more of Gilbert's story. Read more of Gilbert's story.

Visit Our Blogs for More Stories

For more stories like this, visit the Heart Health section on our Michigan Health Blog. Or, to learn more about the newest medical research, visit the Michigan Health Lab blog.