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New Heart Valve Replacement Therapy Available at Sanford

Procedure places a collapsible aortic heart valve into the body via a catheter

(Fargo, ND & Sioux Falls, SD) Sanford Health heart patients across the region now have access to groundbreaking new heart valve replacement technology. Sanford Heart Hospitals in Sioux Falls and Fargo, ND announced this week they both provide patients the first and only transcatheter heart valve replacement (TAVR) approved by the U. S Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This new procedure is typically used in patients who don’t have other treatment options. 

Sanford Health heart valve replacement technolgyThe Edwards SAPIEN Transcatheter Heart Valve was approved less than a year ago by the FDA as an option for patients with severe aortic valve stenosis, an abnormal narrowing of the aortic valve in the heart. This procedure places a collapsible aortic heart valve into the body via a catheter that is inserted through the leg and threaded up to the heart. It is currently a therapy only for adult patients who are not candidates for traditional open-heart surgery.

“We are fortunate to be two of approximately 100 heart programs in the country qualified to perform this procedure. That’s an exclusive club - we are the only ones in North Dakota and South Dakota, the next closest is Rochester, MN,” says Charles P. O’Brien, MD, president, Sanford USD Medical Center in Sioux Falls. “Having two qualified locations within the Sanford Health system is a testament to the quality of heart care the entire Sanford cardiovascular team provides.”

“Research shows that patients with severe aortic stenosis do not survive more than an average of two years after the onset of symptoms if they do not have surgery,” says Dennis Millirons, president Sanford Fargo Medical Center. “For patients who are not candidates for open heart surgery, this transcatheter valve replacement can be an effective treatment option for them.” 

Sanford Health heart valve Fargo TeamIn order to perform transcatheter valve replacement procedures with the Edwards SAPIEN Valve, the members of the Sanford Heart team in both Fargo and Sioux Falls participated in a comprehensive training program.

The procedure is very complex and requires a multi-disciplinary team approach to help ensure optimal patient outcomes. This includes a partnership between several physicians.

Sanford physicians include:

Thomas Haldis, MD
JoEllen Kohlman-Petrick, MD
Tom Stys, MD
Adam Stys, MD
Orvar Jonsson, MD

Vascular Surgeon
Patrick Kelly, MD 

Cardiothoracic Surgeons
Cornelius Dyke, MD
Roxanne Newman, MD
Verlyn Nykamp, MD


Jack Gaspari, MDA
Vijay Gaba, MD

For more information, visit For video animation of the procedure, click here.

About Severe Aortic Stenosis (AS) & Treatment
While up to 1.5 million people in the U.S. suffer from AS, approximately 500,000 within this group of patients suffer from severe AS. An estimated 250,000 patients with severe AS are symptomatic. Severe AS usually occurs in patients older than 75 years of age. Studies show that without an aortic valve replacement (AVR), 50 percent of patients with severe AS will not survive more than an average of two years after the onset of symptoms, however some patients with severe AS are not candidates for open-heart surgery (inoperable). Prior to the advent of TAVR, there was no definitive treatment option available for inoperable patients, as these patients are unable to undergo surgical AVR – the gold standard treatment for most adult patients with severe AS.

About Sanford Health
Sanford Health is an integrated health system headquartered in the Dakotas and is now the largest, rural, not-for-profit health care system in the nation with locations in 126 communities in seven states. In addition, Sanford Health is in the process of developing international clinics in Ireland, Ghana, Israel and Mexico.

Sanford Health includes 35 hospitals, 140 clinic locations and nearly 1,200 physicians in 70 specialty areas of medicine. With more than 25,000 employees, Sanford Health is the largest employer in North and South Dakota. The system is experiencing dynamic growth and development in conjunction with Denny Sanford's nearly $700 million in gifts, the largest ever to a health care organization in America. These gifts are making possible the implementation of the several initiatives including global children's clinics, multiple research centers and finding a cure for type 1 diabetes and breast cancer. For more information, please visit


Jessica Brovold
Sanford Media Strategist – Sioux Falls Region
(605) 366-2432 /
Follow me on Twitter @SanfordJessica 

Darren Huber
Sanford Media Director - Fargo Region
(701) 200-6080 /
Follow me on Twitter @SanfordDarren