Contact: Kate Darden, BHS Vice President, Marketing

Julie B. Wall, Markstein


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – October 29, 2014 – Since opening a year ago, physicians at Princeton Baptist Medical Center’s Heart Valve Clinic have delivered a personalized, innovative approach to treating heart valve disease. They are now expanding their services to include a minimally invasive procedure that can replace heart valves in individuals unable to receive open heart surgical procedures.

A highly trained collaborative team of specialists from Princeton and Cardiovascular Associates of the Southeast (CVA) now offer the Edwards Lifesciences SAPIEN transcatheter aortic valve replacement system (TAVR), which is the first transcatheter valve replacement therapy approved for commercial use in the United States. Princeton is one of only five facilities in Alabama to offer the procedure.

The Heart Valve Clinic at Princeton includes a team of clinicians who provide services ranging from minimally invasive procedures like non-sternotomy cardiac surgery and right thoracotomy aortic valve replacements to routine sternal operations like bypass surgery and valve replacement and repair. The clinic also specializes in robotic mitral valve and tricuspid valve repairs as well as cardiac surgery for Jehovah's Witnesses.

The TAVR procedure, which is a minimally invasive surgery that places a bioprosthetic valve (cow valve) into the heart, was developed specifically for patients who are often unable to receive traditional open heart surgery or who are high-risk operable candidates. The cow valve, delivered through a catheter which may be inserted through an artery in the patient's groin or through a small incision in the chest wall, is placed inside the patient’s aortic valve.

“At the Princeton Heart Valve Clinic, we provide a highly personalized experience for our patients,” said Dr. Clifton Lewis, cardiothoracic surgeon who specializes in the TAVR procedure. “We are committed to developing a strong relationship with each of our patients and their families and maintain strong relationships with referring physicians to provide recommendations for optimal and coordinated care.”

The clinic’s multidisciplinary treatment team includes Tom Cawthon, M.D., Luiz Pinheiro, M.D., Clifton Lewis, M.D., Stephen Bakir, M.D., Chris Huff, M.D., Lee Roberson, M.D., Kate Holmes, R.N. and Claudia Wilkey, R.N. Team members meet with patients on their clinic visit to develop a patient-centered, comprehensive plan, including the latest treatment approaches.

In addition to the entire consultation team of specialists, patients at the clinic receive constant education and access to a nurse before, during and after the procedure.

“Not all patients are candidates for TAVR, as it is a specialized solution for patients for whom open- heart surgery is too risky,” said Dr. Lewis. “TAVR has been designed specifically for patients suffering from severe, symptomatic aortic valve stenosis who are unable to undergo open heart surgery.”

One of the greatest benefits of TAVR is the reduction of the recovery time from several months to just a few weeks, with the average hospital stay ranging between two and four days.

Ninety-two year-old Christine Haufler is one of the 1.5 million people in the United States who suffers from aortic stenosis, the hardening or narrowing of the aortic valve. On July 11, 2014, she experienced the incredible benefit of the TAVR procedure at Princeton.

“Since having the procedure, Christine has no restrictions on how to live her life,” said Dr. Bakir, Christine’s Cardiologist. “Whether it’s going to the gym, going on a hike or taking an extended vacation, she can now live the way she wants to with nothing holding her back.”

“The experts at Princeton helped me get back to life,” said Haufler. “They have been by my side throughout the entire process and I am grateful for their expertise and support. Before the procedure I could not walk even a short distance without becoming short of breath, but now I’m back to my active lifestyle and am on my feet and exercising at the gym each day again.”

For additional information about the Princeton Baptist Medical Center Heart Valve Clinic, please call 205-783-3000 205-783-3000 or visit

About Baptist Health System

Baptist Health System, a not-for-profit 501(c) corporation and one of the largest health systems in Alabama, owns four hospital campuses, including Princeton (in Birmingham), Shelby (in Alabaster), Walker (in Jasper) and Citizens (in Talladega) as well as the largest network of employed primary- and specialty-care physicians providing coordinated care across central Alabama. The system includes graduate medical education programs and active clinical research in multiple specialties. Baptist Health System is committed to providing compassionate, high-quality, innovative health care and empowering its communities to achieve their best health. Baptist Health System is a ministry of the churches of the Birmingham Baptist Association, whose representatives elect the Board of Trustees. It was founded in 1922 by a group of local Baptist congregations. For more information please visit


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