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“I just can’t believe how much better I am, it’s unreal.”

Gerald “Jerry” Anderson

Sun Health Foundation is championing superior health care at Banner Boswell and Banner Del E. Webb medical centers

You never know when you’ll need help and, when you do, having it close at hand can be a lifesaver – literally.

That’s what Gerald “Jerry” Anderson discovered earlier this year when heart problems began giving him shortness of breath.  A retired farmer who winters half the year in Arizona and spends the other half in Washington State, Anderson is no stranger to cardiac issues.  He underwent heart bypass surgery 15 years ago.

But the active 80-year-old doesn’t care to sit around, so he made a doctor’s appointment when he began having trouble breathing.  And that’s when he was surprised to learn how serious things were.

“They said I was lucky I didn’t have a heart attack,” he recalls.  “I was close.”

A candidate for “TAVR”

Anderson was told he might be a candidate for a minimally invasive procedure known as transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) surgery, a revolutionary new approach that replaces the heart valve via a catheter inserted near the groin, as opposed to major open-heart surgery.

He learned it was offered a few hours away, at a Seattle hospital, but traveling there wasn’t feasible for Anderson and his wife, Janis.  A nurse suggested finding out if the procedure was offered in the Phoenix area.  That way, Anderson could have the procedure during their winter respite.

The couple loved the idea and found out that Banner Boswell Medical Center in Sun City, recognized two years in a row by Truven Health Analytics as one of the country’s Top 50 Cardiovascular Hospitals, offered the TAVR procedures.

Nearly as important, “Boswell is very handy for us,” notes Anderson, whose second home is near Wittmann in the far northwest valley.

After undergoing the procedure, which was performed by Dr. Rajeev Kathuria, Anderson says he remembers coming out of the anesthesia and feeling better immediately.

“I could breathe again,” he says, adding, “I can’t say enough to thank the doctors, the nurses, everyone, and how thankful I am for this technology.”

History of support

Anderson says his gratefulness extends to Sun Health Foundation, which helped fund the advanced hybrid operating room (OR) at Banner Boswell that can accommodate such specialized and innovative surgeries as TAVR.

In fact, over the last seven years, Sun Health has delivered on its mission of championing superior health care by providing an impressive $84 million in capital improvements and equipment to both Banner Boswell and Banner Del E. Webb medical centers.

“I’m grateful for Sun Health and its long history of supporting Banner Boswell Medical Center,” says Dave Cheney, chief executive officer.  “Their commitment to or mission has enabled us to bring truly superior health care, including our hybrid OR suite and many other health care innovations, to those we serve in the greater Sun City community.

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Donors are key
The Foundation – which is going strong as it completes its fifth decade – provided nearly $12 million to build the hybrid OR at Boswell.  More than $3
million in Foundation funds enabled Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center to purchase spinal surgery equipment, as well a MAKOplasty robotic arm-assisted navigation system used for partial knee and total hip replacement procedures.  It is the only “MAKO” robot in the entire Banner Health system.  These are just two recent examples of the support Sun Health has provided to these medical centers.  “Our many Sun Health Foundation donors can rest assured that 100 percent of their gifts go toward the purposes they specify,” said Bill Sellner, Sun Health CFO.  “And their gifts stay right here in the community.”

As for Anderson and others like him who have benefitted from Sun Health Foundation’s support, there’s simply nothing that tops good health.  He’s more than thrilled to be able to go for walks around his property again or watch his grandsons team rope on the rodeo circuit.

“I just can’t believe how much better I am,” Anderson says.  “It’s unreal.”

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