SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - Ground-breaking surgery for heart patients is happening in Springfield and doctors nationwide are coming here, to learn how to do it.
It wasn't developed at RiverBend, but the Springfield hospital has embraced CTO artery clearing technology.
No one is more grateful than cardiac patient Jerry Saveriano of Corvallis.
One year ago, last May, Jerry Saveriano was in a huge fix.
His heart bypass surgery in March failed and Saveriano suffered a heart attack. "I'm laying there and your scrambling and you're facing a real existential choice here: what am I going to do?" said Saveriano.
Jerry had CTO, Chronic Total Occlusion, or totally blocked arteries.
He was on the verge of a second bypass surgery when he was referred to Dr. Stephen Cook at Sacred Heart at RiverBend for a still fairly new CTO procedure.
Instead of balloon angioplasty, doctors use larger dual catheters to get around the plaque.
Saveriano told KVAL News, "They were able to go into the old artery where I had the existing 2 layers of stents, and get in and fight their way in from the top and the bottom."
"This is a procedure that can be life altering for these patients," says Dr. Cook, cardiologist at the Oregon Heart and Vascular Institute.
Now the doctor is the professor. Cardiologists nationwide are coming here to learn the life saving CTO procedure on video, as it happens.
20 doctors were at OHVI last week for the first of many medical seminars to come, which include two days of intense training.
While Sacred Heart at RiverBend is still the only Oregon hospital performing the CTO procedure, Dr. Cook says that will change in another 12 months, with up to 3 more Oregon hospitals doing the minimally invasive procedure.
It will be giving guys like Jerry Saveriano a solid second chance.
He adds, "You thank heaven for the technology and for the good doctors, the great care and the good facility."
Dr. Cook says since the program began two years ago, about 150 CTO procedures have been done at RiverBend.