Patient Story

Klark’s Story – Aortic Stenosis

Klark’s Story – Aortic Stenosis

Throughout 2019, Klark Gabrielsen, a 71-year-old retiree from Chester Township, New Jersey, became increasingly short of breath when walking uphill or climbing stairs. 

“My primary care physician recommended seeing a cardiologist,” Klark says. “I told him I preferred to see a cardiologist at Englewood Health because, regardless of where this situation might lead, as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I wanted to be at a facility where bloodless surgery was the standard of care.”

Treatment on Pause

In January of 2020, Englewood Health cardiologist Dennis Katechis, DO, diagnosed Klark with aortic stenosis—narrowing of the heart’s aortic valve that can force the heart to work harder to pump blood—and an aortic aneurysm, which is a bulge in the body’s largest artery. He needed valve replacement surgery.

“While we have choices when it comes to valve surgery—the traditional, open surgery, and a less invasive procedure called transcatheter aortic valve replacement—that’s not the case for fixing an ascending aortic aneurysm,” says Adam Arnofsky, MD, chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Englewood Health. “Therefore, we planned an open-heart surgery to address both the aortic stenosis and aneurysm.” 

A diagnosis of a nonaggressive form of leukemia foiled the plan for Klark to have heart surgery in short order. Just days after an oncologist gave Klark the green light to proceed with his surgery, in March 2020, the State of New Jersey suspended elective procedures, such as Klark’s, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“My Englewood Health physicians monitored my medications and stayed in touch throughout the spring and summer,” Klark says. “They kept me away from the hospital as much as possible because of COVID-19, so we had several telemedicine conferences. I appreciated how the team stayed in contact with me.”

Perfect Timing 

Klark finally had surgery on August 18, 2020, one day after Englewood Health released its last COVID-19 patient. Klark’s operation was a success. He went home five days later. 

“I feel wonderful,” Klark says. “I didn’t realize how sick I was until I felt better. My energy is much higher, and I can be more active with my grandchildren. I’m so glad I had the surgery when I did. Aortic stenosis can get worse and worse, but I was able to get treatment when I was still, basically, pretty healthy.”

Klark’s Story – Aortic Stenosis

Other links or resources

Read related stories

Share This