Elva Anderson, Heart Institute Patient

At 94 years old, Elva Anderson is going strong thanks, in part, to a cardiac procedure she had recently at Virginia Mason. It was a TAVR or transcatheter aortic valve replacement — a minimally invasive procedure that repairs the valve without the removal of the old, damaged one. Elva had been experiencing shortness of breath due to her aortic valve not functioning properly.

During a TAVR, a collapsible replacement valve is delivered to the heart through a catheter and is then wedged into the old aortic valve's place. Once the new valve is expanded, it pushes the old valve out of the way and takes over the job of regulating blood flow.

The surgical team told Elva after the operation that they "had never seen an artificial valve go into place so beautifully." Elva only spent four days in the hospital, where she felt right at home. "All the doctors, nurses and trainees were especially friendly and helpful," she remembers. There was no recovery period so Elva was able to go home and start enjoying life again.

“I'll be 95 on my next birthday and I have lived a full and happy life.”

Prior to the concern about her heart, Elva had few health problems. A few years ago, she had hip replacement surgery and has had cataract surgery on both her eyes. About eight years ago, Elva was diagnosed with neuropathy, a condition that causes numbness in her legs and feet. The condition is not painful, but makes it difficult to walk unaided. Elva now uses a walker to help with her balance.

A busy person during her working years, Elva was an airline reservations agent at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. She retired 22 years ago after 40 years in the travel industry. "I was able to travel to many fascinating places in the world for which I am grateful," she says.

Today, she enjoys driving to "interesting places three or four times a week" with her son, Tim, who lives with her. She also makes greeting cards using photos she's taken over the years. "That keeps me busy," she says, and adds that "I'll be 95 on my next birthday and I have lived a full and happy life."