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Augusta’s back in the driver’s seat, thanks to the TAVR program at Staten Island University Hospital

As the program’s 100th patient, Augusta renewed her independence—and her driver’s license.

90-year-old woman wearing sunglasses sits on a bench in a park.
Out and about once more, Augusta Howe has a lot to smile about.

Augusta Howe has seen a lot in her lifetime. She remembers the construction of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge between her home borough of Staten Island and Brooklyn. At 91 years old, Augusta isn’t finished exploring. Fiercely independent, Augusta lives alone and enjoys doing her own errands and shopping. 

“I like being able to get around on my own to visit family and friends, go to church and the local stores, Augusta explained. “I don’t want to be a bother to my family. But more than that, I like being able to look after myself.”

Woman in her 90s standing in front of a long suspension bridge.
Augusta Howe enjoys a sunny day in her Staten Island neighborhood.

But when she started feeling run down and short of breath last year, she thought it might be time to give up her driver’s license. She worried that her health wouldn’t support her independent lifestyle much longer.

“I hadn’t been feeling well for a while and was having more difficulty with my breathing. I stopped going out as much and let my family help me out,” she said. “Over time, I kept feeling worse. It got to the point where I couldn’t catch my breath.”

Augusta was evaluated by interventional cardiologist Gregory Maniatis, MD, at Staten Island University Hospital. The diagnosis was heart failure, due to issues with her aortic valve, but Dr. Maniatis explained that a repair, and ultimately, relief from her breathing issues, was possible. At first, Augusta was worried that she would need open-heart surgery, which, at her age, would be out of the question. But Dr. Maniatis reassured her that the team at Staten Island University Hospital could do the repair with a new, noninvasive technique, meaning no open-heart surgery, and no arduous recovery.

“We offer a procedure called transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). It’s a nonsurgical means of delivering a replacement aortic valve via a catheter,” Dr. Maniatis explained. “For the right patient, this procedure is much less invasive than surgical aortic valve replacement. It’s ideal for people like Mrs. Howe.”

According to Dr. Maniatis, TAVR is fast becoming the standard of care. With most cases, surgeons can perform the procedure through a half-centimeter incision in the groin, threading a catheter up to the heart to make the required repairs. The benefits of this less invasive surgery are many. It offers patients a shorter stay in the hospital as well as a much shorter, easier recovery period. Dr. Maniatis credits the team of cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons at Staten Island University Hospital for creating a program that offers the highest quality of interventional cardiology care to the greater Long Island community. And he’s proud to say that the program boasts only positive outcomes.

Augusta ended up being the TAVR program’s 100th patient—as well as another TAVR program success story. 

“So many people I know travel into Manhattan when they need care. I was very happy to be able to have this procedure done so close to home. It made it much easier for me and my family,” she said. “To recover in just a single day without any discomfort was also great. The hospital and staff were wonderful. It felt good to be surrounded by such caring people.” 

Augusta was not only back on her feet within a few days after having the TAVR procedure, but back at the Department of Motor Vehicles to renew her driver’s license just a few weeks later. 

“My family took me back to the hospital for a routine checkup and after we were done, my son said, ‘You know what we’re doing next? We’re going to go renew your license!’” she said. “So that’s what we did, and now I have my independence back.”

When asked what she would like other people to know about the TAVR procedure, and the care she received at Staten Island University Hospital, Augusta said she can’t say enough good things. She hopes everyone who might be a candidate for TAVR will go see Dr. Maniatis and his team to get their care so they can quickly return to the people and things they love.

“The doctors were so caring and so good at explaining everything to me,” she said. “What the doctors can do these days is just amazing—this procedure really was a new lease on life for me.”