Sharon DeFreece

Artist Sees New Beauty After Innovative Procedure

"I hadn't realized how pale my complexion had gotten. Now, I have roses in my cheeks."

Sharon DeFreece (pictured above) has always been inspired by colors. As a professional painter, she uses oil and watercolor to recreate the beauty she sees in the world. But until a recent heart procedure, she didn't realize how much color she was missing in her own life.

"I got my rosy cheeks back," she said with a big smile.

Sharon was one of the first patients to receive a Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) at Olathe Medical Center (OMC). The TAVR is a minimally invasive, catheter-based procedure that is an alternative to open-heart surgery.

"This procedure has been a game changer as it has allowed treatment of patients who in the past had no viable therapeutic options, thus allowing us to prolong their life and improve their quality of life," Dusan Stanojevic, MD, interventional cardiologist with Olathe Health Cardiology Services, said.

Sharon has severe aortic stenosis, which means the aortic valve in the heart has narrowed making it harder for the body to pump blood. With less blood flow, the heart has to work harder. That leads to symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain and feeling tired. Without proper treatment, the heart function can deteriorate and be deadly.

Sharon DeFreece with her cardiology teamSharon attended the OMC valve clinic in July 2018 to determine if she was a good candidate for a heart procedure. She was evaluated by a multidisciplinary team, which included Dr. Stanojevic, Cara Lanzrath, RN, BSN, the structural heart coordinator, and James Miller, MD, FACC, FACS, a cardiothoracic surgeon with Olathe Health Kansas Heart and Lung Surgeons. The team decided she was a good candidate for the new TAVR procedure, and she had the procedure in November 2018.

"Sharon had an amazing response to this procedure," Dr. Stanojevic said. "She was out of the hospital in just a few days and was able to walk farther and do more things within a week after her procedure than she has done in some time."

Sharon realized her severe aortic stenosis was causing her fatigue, but it wasn't until her hospital stay following the procedure that she realized she had also lost her color.

"I looked in the mirror when I got to my room, and that's when I realized I was glowing," Sharon said. "I hadn't realized how pale my complexion had gotten. Now, I have roses in my cheeks."

Sharon is thankful to the cardiology team at OMC for extending her life, giving her more time with her family and more time to paint.

"It's made me more creative, and I probably will never be able to paint all the things I see, but I'm trying," she said.

To learn more and determine if you are a candidate, please talk with your primary care provider, or call Cara Lanzrath, RN, BSN, at 913-791-3500 x 4255.

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