Virginia Nordlee is feeling great after being the first person in Saskatchewan to receive a new live-saving procedure that the province is now offering at the Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon.
"This [procedure] will give life to many more grandmas and grandpas," Nordlee said.
In January, the 83-year-old received a transcatheter mitral valve repair (TMVr).
The procedure repairs a leaking mitral heart valve, which can damage the heart and lead to congestive heart failure if left untreated.
A TMVr is a highly specialized procedure meant to be minimally invasive, pose a lower risk and have a quicker recovery time compared to the alternative, open heart surgery.
"This wasn't surgery really. Even though I have people saying, 'please, you must show me the scar. You have to have a scar.' No, I have no scars," Nordlee said.
As part of the procedure, cardiologists insert a small medical device — known as a MitraClip — through the patient's femoral vein in their groin.
The device is slowly guided into position on the right side of the heart, where it will help to control bleeding.
Along with being minimally invasive, the procedure has additional benefits for the patient, according to Dr. Janine Eckstein.
"Most patients leave hospital the day after the procedure. They get to sleep in their own bed the next night and they get to recover for the rest of the time with their friends and family around them," Eckstein said.
Eckstein is an intervention cardiologist and is the only specialist in the province trained to offer the TMVr procedure.
Previously she had to travel with her patients to Ontario to perform the procedure.
The province unveiled its TMVr program on Tuesday at Royal University Hospital.
After initially teasing the program in its 2023/2024 budget, Health Minister Paul Merriman confirmed on Tuesday that the province is paying $330,000 to establish the program.
"Ensuring patients receive the specialized care that they need when they need it is a top priority for us," said Merriman.
So far, Saskatchewan has performed two of the 10 TMVr procedures scheduled for this fiscal year.
Saskatchewan now joins Alberta, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia in offering TMVr.