“The kind of care we have is the result of having a society that cared enough.”
Well, my relationship with Dr. Armstrong began at a social function. I was barbecuing and Dr. Armstrong said to my wife, “Do you think Tom would mind if he came over to my office? He doesn’t look very well.” So from cooking duck to eating it to going over to his office, I found out that I had a heart condition. That’s how it all started. I was not feeling well, obviously, but you live with that and get worried about it and then it becomes ordinary for you. [There was] a lot of panting, a lot of sitting, couldn’t cross the room without breathing [hard].
So he said to have this new procedure, which is called a TAVI procedure, and it is a valve transplant in your heart. And I thought, “A valve? Why would you do that to an 81-year-old guy? Why don’t you save that procedure for someone younger?” And he said, “This procedure”—which is a new procedure, which is where the research comes in directly—“no, our target is like 86, 87.”
So the whole thing has to do with quality of life, to ensure that if you’re healthy enough in many respects to live longer, that you will without a large degree of disability or pain. It is a non-invasive procedure of going in through your vein through to your heart, and replacing the valve [with] either an animal valve or a metal valve, and not having to crack open your chest. I went into the hospital in one day, got prepped for it, procedure the next day, stayed a night again, and was out the next day. Unheard of, to me!
Changed my life back again. I am able to walk. I have other problems, like back problems and so on, but this particular area of concern has diminished so much. I have much more energy, vitality. This was and is an ongoing research and developmental program. And so their research is continuing and continuing, so that instead of being in there for only two days, it is envisaged that they will be able to do it as a day procedure. And you will be able to come out of there the same day you have the procedure with a new heart valve. Can you believe that?
So I think if people can avail themselves not only of the information, to read it, and then to say, “Well, maybe I can be of help,” from the very selfish reason that it could affect you, but also your kids, your friends, society, mankind… the kind of care we have is the result of having a society that cared enough to do that.
Thomas Peacocke underwent the TAVI procedure in 2014 when it was entering the early days of clinical practice in Canada. TAVI has since evolved into a standard clinical procedure accepted by the medical profession due to its efficacy and scientifically proven value. A research study intended to further improve the TAVI procedure by enabling a 24-hour patient discharge is currently underway.