By ED SALVAS
Brennen’s Steakhouse in Neptune City was crowded last Friday evening to help piano man Al Rando celebrate his 92nd birthday which was on Sept. 16. What many people may not have known is that Rando almost didn’t make it to 92.
Rando, who is also blind, suffered from Severe Aortic Stenosis, a life-threatening condition that causes the aortic heart valve to narrow and interrupt the normal flow of blood to the heart, often with no outward symptoms. What saved Rando was a procedure called a Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement, or TAVR, an alternative to open heart surgery, which was performed at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.
Aortic Stenosis is a condition that’s under-diagnosed and as a result under-treated according to Dr. Chad Kliger, MD, Director of the Valve and Structural Heart Center, Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery at Lenox Hill, part of the Northwell Health System.
Dr. Kliger, an Interventional Cardiologist, met Rando through the musician’s niece, Laurie Kenny-Ambio, an employee of Northwell, who asked if anything could be done for her uncle. Dr. Kliger said because Rando is in generally good health otherwise he would benefit from the less invasive procedure. Dr. Kliger said the TAVR procedure takes about 45 minutes to an hour during which the valve is implanted through a small incision in the patient’s upper leg, after which the patient spends two or three days on average in the hospital before returning home.
The TAVR procedure was approved in the U. S. by the Food and Drug Administration in 2011, according to Carla Asta, Director of Patient Engagement, Transcatheter Heart Valves at Edwards Lifesciences of Irvine, California, which manufactures the valve. The procedure is now performed by specialized Heart Teams at approximately 500 hospitals in the U. S.
Al Rando’s story captured the attention of the medical community and he is now the subject of a short video documentary being produced by Edwards Lifesciences which will be used to help raise awareness and educate the public about this deadly condition and lifesaving procedure. A video crew spent a few days in New York City and New Jersey doing interviews and was on hand for the special birthday celebration at Brennen’s Steak House. Dr. Kliger came down from New York for the party and was treated to an Al Rando rendition of “Over the Rainbow.”
The video should be completed in time for February, national Heart Month and posted to Edwards’ educational website where you can learn more about Aortic Stenosis and TAVR: www.NewHeartValve.com.