U-M TAVR patient cheered by 100,000+ football fans

WW II Veteran and U-M patient honored as “Veteran of the Game”


Ray Tollefson is familiar with the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center, having undergone a Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)  procedure in 2013. He represents one of the more than 600 U-M TAVR patients to date who are living more fulfilled lives, thanks to the experienced team of interventional cardiologists and cardiac surgeons at the Frankel CVC.


A member of the Michigan Marching Band stops to congratulate Veteran of the Game Ray Tollefson.

And, because of his TAVR procedure, the 91-year-old World War II U.S. Army Ranger veteran is now familiar with the U-M football field after being honored as “Veteran of the Game” before the University of Michigan/Ohio State University game on November 28. The full day consisted of a variety of events for Ray, including a tailgate experience, a salute from the Michigan Marching Band, which stopped to honor him, and his introduction as “Veteran of the Game” before a packed stadium of more than 100,000.

600 TAVRs and counting

The TAVR program at U-M is among the top programs in the country in terms of heart valve experience, recently surpassing 600 TAVR procedures. Our comprehensive team is well equipped and fully experienced in the complete spectrum of minimally invasive devices, allowing treatment of all types of complex aortic valve disease, including those patients with prior heart valve procedures that require a second operation (such as valve-in-valve) or difficult-to-access anatomy. Interventional cardiologists and cardiac surgeons work together for a seamless approach to these procedures.

Touched by the attention

By all accounts, Ray enjoyed the game-day excitement and attention, posing with well wishers and even shedding a tear at the end of the event. He’s one important example of a U-M TAVR patient living a better quality of life.

Take the next step:

Frankel-informal-vertical-sigThe University of Michigan Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center is a top-ranked heart and heart surgery program among Michigan hospitals. To learn more, visit our website at umcvc.org.