Local patient says newly available ‘incredible’ heart procedure was ‘so easy’


CARBONDALE, IL — If you live in or near southern Illinois, you no longer have to leave your community to receive a heart valve replacement.

Prairie Heart Institute Southern Illinois Healthcare in Carbondale is saving lives with a minimally invasive surgical option called transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR. A patient reunited Tuesday with the doctors who saved her life. She said she trusts them with her whole heart.

Regina Einig is 75 years old, and she has had 30 surgeries. But, when she found out she was going to need heart surgery, she said, she was scared. The doctors gave her two options: open heart surgery or the TAVR. She chose TAVR.

“It was incredible. It was so easy,” said Einig.

People used to have to leave southern Illinois to get the procedure, which was a burden on them.

“We ask them to have multiple tests done and travel for procedures when they really do not want to be a burden on their families,” said Dr. Magdalena Zeglin, an interventional cardiologist at Prairie Heart Institute Southern Illinois Healthcare.

Einig is one of the first patents to have TAVR there. She said it was one of her best decisions.

“When I came here in ’83, everything was: if you need good care, you go to St. Louis. Now, I tell them: If you need good care, you come right here,” said Einig.

Einig is a musician, and she said TAVR helped her get back to doing what she loves quickly. “I had the surgery on Thursday, went home on Saturday, went to church on Sunday and taught piano on Monday,” she said.

The core valve inside Einig is made of memory metal that holds its shape when it’s inside the body. The tissue is made of animal tissue.

“That’s the valve? It’s huge compared to what I thought it was. As far as my heart goes, I have a whole lot more peace of mind,” said Einig.

Einig can now comfortably breathe a sigh of relief. The surgical team at Prairie Heart Institute Southern Illinois Healthcare performs about two TAVR procedures per week.

In west Kentucky, Baptist Health Paducah hopes to start offering TAVR in the future.

If you are interested in learning more about the procedure at Prairie Heart, call 618-529-4455, ext. 66360.

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