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Bernie Marcus Tours Construction Site 24 Hours after Life-Saving Surgery

Atlanta, Ga. (Oct. 30, 2018) – In a way that is typically reserved for fiction writers, six years after The Marcus Foundation gave $20 million to establish the Marcus Heart Valve Center at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital, Bernie Marcus is a recipient of the world-class cardiovascular care he helped to develop.

And 24 hours after receiving a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), a minimally invasive procedure to replace his damaged valve with an artificial one, Marcus is able to walk the construction site for the new patient tower being built on the campus of Piedmont Atlanta. The new Piedmont Atlanta Tower will house, among other services, the Marcus Heart and Vascular Center thanks to another generous donation of $75 million made by The Marcus Foundation in 2016; it is expected to open September 2020.

“I just wish my body could have waited three more years,” Marcus says with a smile as he stands in what will be the lobby of the new patient tower. “It would have been wonderful to have my procedure here, but we did OK anyway. Standing here, I do think about all the patients who will benefit from what will happen inside this new facility and with its state-of-the-art services. There is no reason to go anywhere else.”

“It is an amazing story,” says Charlie Brown, M.D., CEO of Piedmont’s Physician Enterprise. “Who knew that when Bernie made his gift to help Piedmont Atlanta and Piedmont Heart to develop the Vascular Center that he would one day need its services?”

On-site with Bernie and his wife, Billi, are the three cardiologists who collaborated to perform Marcus’s TAVR procedure – Vivek Rajagopal, M.D., and Christopher Meduri, M.D.; both of whom specialize in interventional cardiology, and James Kauten, M.D., a cardiothoracic surgeon. Dr. Kauten also serves as the program director of the Marcus Heart Valve Center. Established in 2012, the Marcus Heart Valve Center was the nation’s first comprehensive valve center for care, training and research regardless of the valve in which the damage occurs – aortic, mitral, pulmonary, and tricuspid valve – or the reason for it, congenital or acquired.

“Mr. Marcus is a perfect example of the importance of the TAVR procedure,” explained Dr. Rajagopal. “Prior to his TAVR, he had severe aortic stenosis – a narrowing due to hardening of the aortic valve – that if left untreated, is terminal. He had been experiencing extreme fatigue and shortness of breath for six months.”

Within six hours of the procedure, Marcus was up and walking. Traditionally, patients with Marcus’s condition would receive open heart surgery, an invasive procedure with a much longer recovery.

“He can go right back to his active lifestyle now,” added Dr. Meduri. “We are grateful to The Marcus Foundation for their gift and what it has meant to so many patients with severe valve issues. What comes around, goes around. This is an exciting moment for our program to help the person who helped us realize our vision.”

For more information about the new patient tower on the campus of Piedmont Atlanta Hospital, go to betterpiedmont.org. For more information on aortic stenosis and available treatment options, visit piedmont.org/AorticValveStenosis.

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