Top stories from 2015

Making discovering, helping our neighbors and people across the globe battle heart disease

This year the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center continued to lead a treatment transformation in heart valve replacement, made new discoveries, and gave hope to our neighbors and people across the globe who are battling cardiovascular disease. These stories reflect a fundamental truth: Every step forward is a step we take together. Best wishes for a happy, healthy 2016!

UMHS10545YearInReview_blueTAVR ticker hits 600

It’s been a treatment transformation: fixing heart valves without surgery for patients with stiffened and narrowed aortic valves. The cardiac teams at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center have performed more transcatheter aortic valve replacements than most hospitals in the country. That’s 600 lives changed and counting.

From Egypt to Ann Arbor

Nassef Matoshaleh, and his wife, Wafaa, explored a handful of hospitals in the world – including the U.K., Germany, France and Canada and the U.S. — for aortic surgery. Their small family prayed the trip to the U-M to treat Nassef’s ascending aortic aneurysm would bring him back home. And it did. “The U-M team worked like an orchestra… to get out the most beautiful symphony you could ever hear. It’s like the symphony of life,” says Wafaa.

Back in the game

Without a human heart, Stanley Larkin visited a water park this summer and plays basketball with family and friends. Born with a heart defect, he’s spent a year with a Syncardia total artificial heart, the first person to leave a Michigan hospital without a heart and putting him in a rare group of patients worldwide using the device. A backpack-sized power supply keeps the technology — and Stanley — going until he gets a heart transplant.

Seeing double at the CVC

Twins enjoyed comic confusion at the CVC which was home to three sets of identical twins. Fourth year medical students – Corey Foster and Ben Foster – completed their rotations at the CVC. Courtney Clark and Rachel Scheich are both nurse practitioners in the CVC ICU. We miss seeing Mike Ranella every day, but we can see a familiar face in the device clinic where his twin brother Paul works.

Lacrosse star plays on with pulmonary hypertension.

Since her diagnosis with pulmonary hypertension, a rare heart condition that interferes with blood flow to the lungs, U-M graduate Katie Mezwa says she’s focusing on living a normal 22-year-old life. Her post diagnosis life included playing for the University of Michigan Womens Club Lacrosse team as the team earned its first national title this spring. Katie earned the Women’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association Division 1 Player of the Year Award.

“To me, that award is a testament to my hard work and dedication and a great reminder that even a heart condition can’t hold me back,” says the 2015 U-M graduate whose future goals involve improving global health.


UMHEALTHThe 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.

Two-time aortic aneurysm survivor shares her experience

One woman's story of hope

Lori Eslick is a two-time aortic aneurysm survivor. Her heart issues began as a newborn when she was diagnosed with a heart murmur and bicuspid aortic valve disease (a congenital abnormality).

Years later, at age 49, a routine EKG led to the diagnosis of an ascending aortic aneurysm.

An ascending aortic aneurysm (also known as a thoracic aortic aneurysm) occurs in the part of the aorta in the chest, situated above the diaphragm, a muscle that helps you breathe. Approximately 25 percent of aortic aneurysms are thoracic, with the rest occurring in the abdomen. Thoracic aortic aneurysms can rupture and lead to severe internal bleeding, resulting in death. They don’t always cause symptoms, even when they’re large. Only half of all people who have thoracic aortic aneurysms notice any symptoms. Continue reading

Do you know your risk for an aortic aneurysm?

There are often no symptoms associated with an aortic aneurysm, so it's important to know your health history

Abdominal aortic aneurysmAn aortic aneurysm generally doesn’t cause symptoms until a patient has a significant problem. Most aortic aneurysms are detected by chance — for example, through an imaging test that was ordered to rule out other health concerns.

This is why it’s so important to know your health history. Does someone in your family have an aneurysm? Has a family member died from an aneurysm or experienced a catastrophic event due to an aneurysm? If so, these are indications that you and members of your family should be tested. The key is to know your risk(s) for an aortic aneurysm to reduce your chances of stroke or sudden death. Continue reading

From Egypt to Ann Arbor for complex aortic aneurysm and valve surgery

Family from Egypt chooses University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center

Matoshaleh_blogWhen Nassef Matoshaleh, and his wife, Wafaa, left Cairo, Egypt, early this year, their two sons weren’t certain their father would return. But George and Michael, both pharmacists like their parents, prayed the trip to the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center to treat their father’s ascending aortic arch aneurysm would bring him back home.

And it did.

Nassef and Wafaa explored a handful of hospitals in the world — including in the U.K., Germany, France, Canada and the U.S. — to perform surgery on Nassef’s ascending aortic aneurysm. The two did extensive research and, with the help of family friend and U-M doctor Rafat Rizk (specializing in gastroenterology and internal medicine), decided Dr. Michael Deeb, a renowned specialist in the treatment of ascending aortic aneurysms, was the right doctor for them. Continue reading

New procedure offers hope for aortic aneurysm patients

Frank Korany is back to enjoying life’s adventures after minimally invasive fenestrated endograft procedure

Frank at oxford tap blog

Frank is back to playing his saxophone.

Frank Korany knew something was very wrong when he was transferred from one hospital near his home to the University of Michigan emergency room in 2013. As it turned out, the aortic aneurysm he had been diagnosed with in 2007 (and which his doctors were monitoring) had grown so large that only a team of specialists like those at the U-M Frankel Cardiovascular Center had the necessary expertise to treat him.

Frank was no stranger to heart issues. He had experienced congestive heart failure, which led to a pacemaker in 2008, followed by surgery to insert two stents and then a serious infection that required removal of the pacemaker and impacted his joints and teeth. “I had to learn to walk again,” Frank says, due to the severity of the joint infection.

When he was admitted to U-M for treatment of the seven-centimeter aneurysm growing in his aorta, Frank jokingly posted this message on his Facebook page: “Vacationing in Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan.” Continue reading

Aneurysm repair leads to celebration of life and love

"Right then I was confronted with: Is this your last day?"

Heart Month Greg Goss pic.fw

Heart disease survivor Greg Goss is back to living life.

What’s the best place to begin a story about a medical emergency that few survive that leads to a marriage proposal?

Greg Goss was on his way to an event when severe pain led him to change his plans. Instead he went to the emergency room at the University of Michigan Health System.

He was in an exam room talking to others, but when he was asked to stand he starting screaming and hollering from pain. That’s when, he says, the aneurysm ruptured.

Facing a challenge as a team. Trusting instincts. Those are the strengths Greg and his family would rely on to overcome the unexpected:  an aneurysm that had silently created dangerous pressure on the wall of an artery until it burst. Continue reading