Jim Christensen

The Heart of a Champion 

When it comes to finishing in first place, Jim Christensen is well-versed. Not many can say that they've pitched a perfect game for the Stockton Ports, or hit a hole-in-one to win a golf tournament. Jim's list of first place finishes seems endless - waterskiing, boxing, racing, dancing -you name it and he's won it.

True to form, Jim, who's grown quite accustomed to coming in first place, was the first patient to undergo a new treatment option for patients with severe valve disease called Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR), here at St. Joseph's Medical Center.

"I couldn't walk across a room before having to stop and catch my breath," explained Jim. He was suffering from severe aortic valve stenosis, which is a narrowing of his heart's aortic valve opening.

Severe aortic stenosis is life threatening, and treatment for this condition is critical. Because of Jim's age and condition, traditional open heart surgery to fix his valve was considered too high risk.

"My doctor called and told me about this new procedure that would fix my heart," said Jim.

For people who have been diagnosed with severe aortic stenosis and are at an intermediate or greater risk for open heart surgery, TAVR may be an alternative. This less invasive procedure uses a catheter to insert a new valve within the native diseased aorticvalve, via a small incision in the leg.

"We are so lucky and thankful that this procedure was availablefor him," said his wife Frances. Jim had the TAVR procedure performed in the new Cardiac Hybrid Suite which opened in summer 2016 at St. Joseph's. The project to build the suite was largely funded by generous community donations.

After a short stay in the hospital, Jim was discharged and "ready to do the twist."