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Joined at the Heart - A Story About TAVR

A Fuquay Couple Shares Everything – Even a Heart Condition

There is something magical about the way chance encounters can lead to long, loving relationships. Just ask Vincent and Margo Dioguardi. They met on a beach in Staten Island, NY in 1953 and have been together ever since. Throughout the years, they have shared common interests and a love of family and faith. Who knew they would also share a common heart condition?

College, the U.S. Army and jobs took the Dioguardis from New York to Georgia and then back to New York where they stayed for many years. They had five children and enjoyed happy, healthy lives. In 2004, Vincent and Margo decided to move to Fuquay-Varina, NC to be near their daughter Janice as they aged. “We weren’t getting any younger,” said Vincent.

Tragedy struck in 2012 when the Dioguardi’s 54-year-old son died suddenly from a heart condition. “Heart problems were on both sides of the family, but we were both healthy and outliving our families so we didn’t think about it until our son passed away,” said Margo.

The Dioguardis started with a visit to their primary care doctor, Ionna Giatis Kessler, DO, at WakeMed Physician Practices – Fuquay-Varina Primary Care. She referred them to Richard Daw, MD, a cardiologist with WakeMed Heart & Vascular Physicians.

“Dr. Daw blew the whistle on us,” said Vincent. To Dr. Daw’s amazement, both Margo and Vincent Dioguardi had aortic valve stenosis and needed treatment. Vincent also had a blocked artery.

In addition to having the same diagnosis, both Vincent and Margo were good candidates for a highly specialized procedure called transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) because of their advanced ages and preexisting health conditions. The minimally invasive TAVR procedure can be an option for individuals who cannot tolerate traditional open heart surgery. Fortunately for Margo and Vincent, WakeMed interventional cardiologist Walter Tan, MD, and cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon Bryon Boulton, MD specialize in structural heart issues and performing the TAVR procedure.

“They both had a good manner about them,” remarked Margo. Brian Go, MD, an interventional cardiologist with WakeMed Heart & Vascular Physicians, performed a stent procedure on Vincent’s blocked artery on December 31, 2014. Next it was Margo’s turn. Margo had the TAVR procedure on January 21, 2015.

“Margo was braver than I was,” recalled Vincent. “I waited to have my surgery to see how she did.” Vincent then had his TAVR procedure on February 3, 2015. Margo and Vincent each spent four days in the hospital after their procedures. They appreciated the reassurances they received from their doctors. “Dr. Tan and Dr. Boulton took the time to answer our questions and they looked me right in the eye,” said Margo. “When Dr. Boulton came into see me, he put his hand on my shoulder and said everything would be fine. It was a comfort,” said Vincent.

“They answered our questions, too, so the whole family knew what was happening,” the Dioguardis’ daughter Jane added. Today, the Dioguardis are living happily in Fuquay-Varina. Vincent goes to the gym several days a week. Margo’s TAVR procedure made it possible for her to have a long overdue knee surgery, which she is recovering nicely from. They look forward to sharing more happy times together.