Soaring high at 91 – age no barrier to living life fully

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At 91 years of age, Lois Griffiths’s zest for life is as strong as ever.

The plucky grandmother’s unwavering determination to live life to its fullest means she is every bit involved in the lives of her family and in the local community as she was five decades ago.

But earlier this year it seemed Lois’s age had begun to catch up with her. She was diagnosed with aortic stenosis – a condition that prevents normal blood flow to the heart.

Due to her age, open heart surgery was not an option.

But when Lois was offered hope in the form of a less invasive procedure known as transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI), she jumped at the opportunity.

“I knew it was the only option I had,” she said.

“It was either that or probably be dead by Christmas. I had no qualms about it, they didn’t pull their punches in any way and I wasn’t afraid. I had complete faith in the team, they were wonderful young men.”

Lois was operated on by cardiologists Alex Incani and Karl Poon at Brisbane’s St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital.

The UnitingCare Health facility was the first private hospital in Queensland to offer the procedure, with Lois one of the first patients to receive the treatment.

The operation was so successful that Lois spent only two days in hospital before being sent home to Clontarf, north of Brisbane.

She immediately resumed her various commitments which include treasurer of the Clontarf Indoor Bowls Club and president of the Redcliffe Citizens Cultural Club.

“I’ve already had a committee meeting at my place, I had a general meeting at my place and I went on a bus trip with them as well,” Lois said of her movements in the weeks after the operation.

Lois’s swift recovery was aided by the healthy lifestyle she maintains. Her remarkable run of good health goes back to 1967, when she last visited hospital as a 43-year-old.

While she doesn’t plan on returning anytime soon, she had nothing but praise for the staff at St Andrew’s.

“They were so wonderful to me at St Andrew’s, I’d do anything for them,” she said.

“My family are absolutely delighted. They can’t speak more highly of the team that did it for their old mother.”

Dr Poon, who has been involved in 50 TAVI procedures, said Lois’s quick recovery was not surprising given the quality of the technology used in the procedure.

“TAVI is perhaps the most transformative cardiac intervention in the past few decades with data now showing superiority over surgery in high risk patients,” Dr Poon said.

“More than 100,000 of these have been performed around the world and the technology has come a long way, with complications rate acceptably low.”

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