Honoring Our Veterans

Ray Tollefson, WWII U.S. Army Ranger and U-M TAVR patient shares his story

Ray_cross blog

Ray Tollefson realized his dream of traveling to France for the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

Ray Tollefson barely survived World War II. As a U.S. Army Ranger, the 89-year-old remembers D-Day well, including the severe injuries he sustained during the battle at Normandy, and his ultimate mission to stay alive. Ray not only survived the war, he went on to live a full, happy life, which continues today, thanks to the Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) he received at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center for his aortic stenosis. His life-saving TAVR procedure enabled Ray to fulfill an important wish: to travel to France this year to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

Aortic stenosis is a condition in which the aortic valve does not open fully, decreasing blood flow from the heart to the body. Although open-heart surgery is the treatment of choice for aortic stenosis, about one-third of patients with this disease are not candidates for the surgery and stand to benefit from less invasive heart valve replacement options. Ray’s medical history placed him at high risk for open-heart surgery. Continue reading