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Victor and Joan Arnao with hospital staff

Victor and Joan Arnao, of Amityville, NY, recently celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary with a unique twist—they renewed their valves. The twin procedures were performed at St. Francis Hospital & Heart Center (Roslyn, NY).

Earlier in 2024, Joan, age 92, was feeling tired and a bit disoriented, a byproduct of severe aortic stenosis.  She was in need of a minimally invasive approach to restoring her health.  Aortic Stenosis impedes the proper opening of the valve, forcing the heart to work harder to pump blood to the rest of the body.

Joan’s daughter, Ellen Weglarz, knew to bring her mother to St. Francis Hospital & Heart Center to receive the most advanced level of cardiovascular care. 

At the same time, Victor, age 96, also began to decline, setting in motion a chain of events that Ellen was able to manage with the strong and loving support of her brother, Fr. Tom Arnao, and sister, Dr. Bernadette Gabrielsen , paired with the round the clock support of the St. Francis Team.

A World War II veteran, Victor had been struggling with congestive heart failure.  Early in 2024, his tricuspid and mitral valves began leaking. Again, Victor’s children brought him to St. Francis, where he had MitraClip implant surgery back in April. The procedure involves guiding a tiny clip to the heart’s mitral valve through a vein in the leg. The clip helps the mitral valve to close more completely.

Two days later, Joan had a TAVR procedure, or transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). The procedure was performed by Dr. Newell Robinson and Dr. George Petrossian, respectively the chairman of cardiothoracic surgery and director of interventional cardiovascular procedures.  The TAVR implant was a success.

“This is a minimally invasive, catheter-based procedure for patients with severe aortic stenosis,” explained Dr. Robinson. “TAVR has fewer risks than open-heart surgery for older patients with severe medical conditions.  Patients typically go home after one day in the hospital following a TAVR procedure.  Joan recovered beautifully!”

Dr. Robinson and Dr. Petrossian are also co-directors of the Heart Valve Center at St. Francis Hospital & Heart Center.

Victor and Joan say that their doctors reassured them that this was the right decision.  Dr. George Petrossian advised, “These surgeries are meant for people like you. They are minimally invasive procedures, utilizing the most advanced technology, to deliver efficient care that will help you heal faster. You can go back to your family and your hobbies and activities within a few weeks.” 

Both Victor and Joan are recovering well, recently celebrating Victor’s 97th birthday with their 3 children, 4 grandchildren and great grandchild.  

“The care was stellar.  Only because of the St. Francis Hospital doctors and staff, my parents’ lives were saved,” says Ellen, “Because of their dedication and love, they treat you like you’re the only patient.”

St. Francis Hospital & Heart Center is nationally recognized by U.S. News & World Report for Heart & Vascular care. Learn more about our heart valve treatments.

Victor and Joan Arnao
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