LFH Patient Enjoys Better Quality of Life After New Valve Procedure

  • James and Vicki Wheary, of Gurnee. formerly of Lake Forest.

    James and Vicki Wheary, of Gurnee. formerly of Lake Forest.

Updated 2/24/2021 3:34 PM

Over the years, James Wheary has overcome numerous health challenges, and when he came to Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital for treatment of recurrent ascitis, the abnormal buildup of fluid in the abdomen, he didn't realize that not only would that issue get treated, but he was also able to be part of a new trial that would greatly improve his quality of life.

Wheary received care at another medical system for complications due to recurrent fluid buildup in the abdomen, where it was treated medically. However, it didn't seem to help, and eventually, he frequently required paracenthesis, a manual procedure that uses a needle and catheter to drain the excess fluid.


However, after he met Mugurel Bazavan, MD, a heart failure cardiologist, and other experts at Lake Forest Hospital, he was seen by the transcatheter tricuspid valve team, which resulted in a diagnosis of cardiac cirrhosis from severe tricuspid regurgitation. After a careful evaluation, Wheary was determined to be eligible for the TRISCEND Study clinical trial, and received a percutaneous tricuspid valve replacement, one of the first of its kind at Northwestern Medicine.

Wheary's ties to Northwestern Medicine run deep. His wife's grandfather, Louis Fazen, was in the first 4 year Northwestern Medical School graduating class in 1900. He was a founding father of surgery in the state of Wisconsin, and the first board certified surgeon in the state. Renowned in the work that he did, the family created a scholarship for a Northwestern medical student to receive their tuition paid for in full.

The success of the valve replacement enabled Dr. Bazavan and his team to improve the patient's quality of life, granting him a newfound freedom by dramatically reducing his need for paracentesis. Today, as a result of his improved cardiac status, the patient has found the relief he'd been seeking for years. Wheary, who lived in Lake Forest for over 40 years, and now resides in Gurnee with his wife, feels stronger, and is enjoying his time with his 3 daughters and 8 grandchildren.

"Dr. Bazavan is an absolute miracle worker," said Wheary. "In addition to just being a great guy, his diagnosis was right on target, and I now don't have to go in for a procedure each month to get the fluid in my abdomen removed. In addition, after I had my valve replacement, I've been able to cut back on many of my medications. I'm grateful for the excellent care I received from the entire team."

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