Published on January 08, 2020

Pfisterer Family

High Tech with a Big Heart

MINIMALLY INVASIVE HEART PROCEDURE GIVES A FAMILY THEIR FATHER BACK: Shortly after coming down with pneumonia last April, Peter Pfisterer of Gaithersburg learned he had congestive heart failure, a condition that causes blood not to pump properly throughout the body. On June 12, the 83-year old nearly died from the condition, but was resuscitated at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center’s Emergency department.

In Shady Grove’s Intensive Care Unit, Peter’s cardiologist told Peter’s family that he knew a doctor he was certain could save Peter’s life – Fayaz Shawl, MD, an interventional cardiologist at Adventist HealthCare White Oak Medical Center.

Peter had severe aortic stenosis, a condition that causes a narrowing of the aorta, the main valve that carries blood from the heart to other parts of the body. Because of Peter’s age and his critical condition, traditional open-heart surgery to repair the valve was too risky.

“When Dr. Shawl got to the ICU to see my dad, we knew Dad needed a miracle,” said Linda Gossweiler, Peter’s daughter. “But Dr. Shawl inspired confidence as soon as he arrived that he could help my father.”

Dr. Shawl explained that Peter needed a minimally invasive heart procedure called a transcatheter valve replacement, or TAVR. This would allow Dr. Shawl to place a new heart valve through a small incision in the groin – instead of having to perform open heart surgery. But first, he’d have to stabilize Peter and perform a valvuloplasty to stretch the valve.

Peter arrived at White Oak Medical Center on Sept. 12 to have Dr. Shawl perform his TAVR procedure – the first at the new hospital, which had just moved from Takoma Park two weeks earlier.

“When I was in the operating room [cath lab], I was astounded. It was just amazing – phenomenal,” Peter said. “It was so hightech; they have everything you need and there were lots of people taking care of me. It made me feel very confident that they could take care of me.”

But it wasn’t just the state-of-the-art hospital that impressed Peter and his family.

“Everyone we touched there was so kind,” Linda said. “The staff even remembered us from my dad’s earlier treatment at Washington Adventist Hospital [which was the predecessor to White Oak Medical Center].”

Just weeks later, Linda and Peter’s wife, Lore, said they are amazed by Peter’s recovery – going from being on the ventilator in the ICU to enjoying dinner out with his family.

Lore had one important message for Dr. Shawl and the White Oak Medical Center heart care team: “Thank you for giving me my husband back.”

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