Frank Allaben

For patients like Frank Allaben, Memorial’s minimally invasive surgical options mean a faster recovery time and surgery that is much less invasive than his previous two heart bypass surgeries. The first one he had more than 20 years ago. “I was cut from stem to stern and had five bypasses done,” says Allaben. Ten years later, Allaben had two more bypasses.

Allaben met Memorial Hospital affiliated Cardiothoracic Surgeon Dr. Vasant Jayasankar when he needed a valve repair. Because of his previous bypasses, he still needed a larger incision than most, but it was one third the length of the earlier surgeries.

“The aortic valve opens about 4 cm to let blood flow and my valve was less than .9 cm so I was only getting about 10 percent of the blood flow,” says Allaben. “I couldn’t walk 50 yards from my office to my car without stopping – and that is not an issue any more,” he says. “I highly recommend the procedure. I probably waited too long but I think that if you are physically able, then you should have it done. Dr. Jayasankar said that he added 12 to 15 more years of active productive life for me. I look forward to golfing again,” he says.

Janice Torbett

Janice Torbett had her valve repaired because it wasn’t working properly. “I had symptoms of shoulder pain, back pain and some chest pain but it was never severe,” says Torbett. “Exertion seemed to trigger it more than anything and that was because the valve wasn’t letting the blood go through. I would come home so tired that I would need to nap before dinner. Even cleaning the house was too hard.”

Torbett, who owns a Christian dance studio, and has taught dance locally for more than 30 years, says that the decision hung over her head until she heard about a procedure offered by Memorial Hospital affiliated Cardiothoracic Surgeon Dr. Vasant Jayasankar. “I feel fortunate to have had this procedure and Dr. Jayasankar. He was helpful and friendly and made the worst part not so bad,” she says.

Now Janice is back in her dancing shoes, and she doesn’t get tired when she dances with the young dancers at her studio.

Tom Yarbrough

Tom Yarbrough was at Bike Week in Daytona Beach when he sensed something was wrong.

“I just didn’t feel right,” Tom told us. “I asked my wife to take my pulse and she said my heart was skipping a beat. So, I sat down, got myself a bottle of water and rested. After a little bit I felt ok.”

But Tom wasn’t ok. A few weeks later after undergoing a stress test and a cardiac catherization performed by Dr. Edward Pereira, he learned he had severe blockages in his aortic valve.

The aortic valve is a critical three leaf valve that allows blood to flow out of your heart. Two of Tom’s leaves were totally calcified and the third was working at less than 30%. Tom says his cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. Vasant Jayasankar, put it more bluntly saying “I was lucky I didn’t drop dead in Daytona instead of just feeling bad.”

Tom had a minimally invasive aortic valve replacement at the Memorial Hospital Heart Center, which allowed for a smaller scar and quicker recovery than traditional surgery. He was in the hospital for less than a week and says the entire staff, from doctors to nurses, provided excellent care.

“All of the doctors are extremely professional,” Tom told us. “They have plenty of time for the patients. None of them shrug you off, or treat you like you are asking stupid questions. If they don’t think you understand something they will take the time to explain it.”

Tom is now back on his bike every day. He credits the surgeons and staff at the Memorial Hospital Heart Center with getting him on the road again!

“It absolutely has given me a new lease on life because I don’t have the shortness of breath and I don’t tire so easily now.”