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Healthy You

Rare Heart Valve Procedure Saves One of NorthShore's Own, Dahlia Louis

At age 62, daily life was a struggle for Dahlia Louis. She suffered such debilitating shortness of breath due to heart failure that walking even a few steps was like climbing a mountain. “I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t function. I was just existing,” recalled Louis.

Louis had undergone open-heart surgery a few years earlier to repair a leaking mitral valve. Unfortunately, the leaflets of her old valve flopped down after the surgery, impeding blood flow out of the heart. Given Louis’ delicate state, her NorthShore care team didn’t think she could survive another open-heart surgery.

Expertise When it Counts the Most
NorthShore Cardiovascular Institute is well known for pioneering a number of new, less invasive cardiovascular techniques. Advanced Heart Failure Specialist Charu Gupta, MD, referred Louis to Justin Levisay, MD, Medical Director of the Institute’s Cardiac Catheterization Labs, who was determined to find a suitable option to fix the valve and help Louis feel better.

Dr. Levisay believed Louis was a good candidate for an advanced electrosurgical treatment called Laceration of the Anterior Mitral leaflet to Prevent left ventricular Outflow tract Obstruction—better known by the acronym LAMPOON. The procedure offers an important new option for high-risk patients previously considered ineligible for certain heart valve procedures.

“For a patient like Dahlia with limited options, it’s exciting for us to offer LAMPOON to deliver innovative structural heart care to repair her highly complex cardio challenge,” explained Dr. Levisay. “I had put it in God’s hands, and He wasn’t going to take me this far to leave me,” said Louis, who calls Mount Prospect home. “When Dr. Levisay told me he could help me, he was so nice. He explained everything, and I trusted him right away.”

NonSurgical Breakthrough
During the LAMPOON procedure, Dr. Levisay used a catheter to insert two thin electrified wires through a vein in Louis’ leg up to the heart. He then used the wires to split open the leaflet so it could no longer block blood flow. The procedure took less than two hours, but the days of preparation that led up to it were exhaustive—including clinical collaborations with Cardiac Imaging Specialist Amit Pursnani, MD, and Interventional Cardiologist Mark Ricciardi, MD.

“Before this, I was dying, and then I woke up with a new life!” exclaimed Louis, who was up and moving around comfortably the next day. “Dahlia is such a kind, amazing and faithful person,” said Dr. Levisay. “It’s nice to see how well she’s done and that she’s able to live her life again helping others.”

Supporting You Through Recovery
Louis, known as “Mama Dahlia” to many, is beyond grateful to be back to her full life and working as a patient access specialist at Skokie Hospital. “I take my job and my ability to help people very seriously,” added Louis. “I’m a big mama hen. I’m Jamaican, and I love to cook and feed people.

When somebody is sick, I’m the one making a pot of soup!” As for being on the receiving end of care, Louis has nothing but praise for her NorthShore team. “The nurses were magnificent. Everyone was very good to me, patient and understanding. Never in my wildest dreams did I think a procedure like this could happen for me.” “We’ve come so far in treating structural heart disease, and it’s such an exciting time to be in this field,” noted Dr. Levisay. “I’m honored to practice at NorthShore because we think big, support innovation and truly change people’s lives

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