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Aurora Heart and Vascular team hits milestone of 1,000th valve replacement procedure at Aurora St. Luke’s

Leading heart center is a destination for the procedure, drawing patients and visitors from around the globe

December 08, 2016

MILWAUKEE – Aurora Health Care and Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center, a national leader in heart and vascular services,  today reached a milestone that few heart centers in the nation have achieved, when Dr. Daniel O’Hair and Dr. Tanvir Bajwa performed the hospital’s1,000th transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedure, which aids patients suffering from a narrowing of their aortic valve called stenosis.

Patients from across the country as well as physicians from around the world come to Aurora St. Luke’s to have the procedure and see the knowledge and experience of this team in performing the procedure. Since June 2011, this physician team has performed all 1,000 procedures at the hospital on older, high-risk people who may not be good candidates for open-heart surgery.  

As part of clinical trials and since the Food and Drug Administration approvals, the Aurora St. Luke’s team has performed TAVRs on patients as young as 45 and as old as 100 years of age. The hospital has also hosted physicians and government leaders from across the country and as many as 10 foreign countries including China, Nigeria, France and Myanmar who have come to see this team work together.

“We’re so proud that the work of Dr. O’Hair, Dr. Bajwa and the surgical team has helped 1,000 patients with a severe heart condition have a new lease on life,” said Marie Golanowski, president of Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center. “Their focus on quality and dedication to delivering the best in patient care is what brings people from around the world to Aurora St. Luke’s to receive the procedure, and it’s why numerous other health systems send physicians and administrators here to observe our best practices.”

On an average week, the Milwaukee-based hospital performs 8-10 TAVR procedures, in which patients receive new aortic valves through the minimally invasive procedure. Doctors feed a new aortic valve to the heart through an artery using a catheter. This less invasive approach to valve replacement has been shown to reduce length of stay in the hospital, allowing recipients to get back to their routines within days.

“The most exciting part of translational research is to watch it happen,” said Randall Lambrecht, PhD, president of Aurora Research Institute. “Drs. Bajwa and O’Hair are two of the most talented surgical cardiologists pioneering this investigative technique to a state-of-the-art clinical innovation. Expert heart care physicians like this is why Aurora St. Luke’s is where ‘Next Generation Medicine’ lives.”

Aortic stenosis impacts more than 1.5 million Americans each year, with some 500,000 being considered severe. People with the condition experience improper flow of blood from the heart, causing the left ventricular of the heart to work harder, which can lead to chest pains, fatigue, problems breathing and much more. Without treatment, the condition can lead to rapid deterioration of quality of life.

Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center has been named a Center of Excellence for this type of therapy by Medtronic, a leading supplier of the valve. The hospital has been at the forefront of clinical trials to bring this valve technology to the market prior to FDA approval in November 2011. Aurora St. Luke’s was a leading site for the original clinical trial in 2010, and today is a host-site for additional clinical trials to see if the procedure may be as effective for younger, lower-risk patients.

“This milestone is a testament to the committed members of our team at Aurora St. Luke’s who work tirelessly to deliver the best care possible to our patients,” said Daniel O’Hair, M.D., cardiothoracic surgeon and co-vice president of Aurora Heart and Vascular Services. “From the team in the surgery suite to the administration who have invested in the best in technology, this is truly a team achievement.”

To recognize the milestone, Aurora St. Luke’s will host a special celebration featuring former patients on Thursday, December 8 at 12 p.m. CST at the hospital. Dr. O’Hair, Dr. Bajwa and members of the hospital administration will speak to the impact of this program on the lives of their patients and how technology continues to bring break-through developments to the future of heart care.

To learn more about the TAVR procedure, visit


About Aurora Health Care:

Aurora Health Care is a not-for-profit Wisconsin-area health care provider and a national leader in efforts to improve health care quality. Aurora offers services at sites in more than 90 communities throughout eastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. Aurora is Wisconsin's most comprehensive health care provider and the state's largest private employer. Aurora serves more than 1.2 million patients every year via a comprehensive network of facilities, services and providers, including 15 hospitals, more than 150 clinics, more than 70 pharmacies and more than 32,000 caregivers. As evidenced by more than 300 active clinical trials, Aurora is dedicated to delivering innovations to provide the best possible care today, and to define the best care for tomorrow. Get helpful health and wellness information via the Aurora MyHealth blog, our Facebook page, our Twitter account and our Pinterest account.

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