Woman credits unconventional heart procedure for saving her life

As a young woman in her 20s, Alania Iannucci faced no shortage of medical challenges.

"I couldn’t catch my breath, I was getting dizzy, I would have pins and needles in my fingers and toes," she said.

She was also having seizures and then in 2016, a doctor told her she needed heart surgery.

"He said you need a valve," she said.

After that procedure, Alania felt better - but not for long.

"Then I got another infection," she said. "And the infection quickly turned to sepsis and it destroyed the valve."

Alania's health was going downhill and doctors said she was too weak for the standard treatment procedure, which was open-heart surgery.

"I started getting scared that I wasn’t going to make it," she said.

But Alania was determined and found a doctor at Corewell Dearborn who offered her some hope through an unconventional heart procedure.

"I used the valve that we usually put in the aortic position the, TARV valve, we used it in the tricuspid position - we basically invented it and advanced it through her groin," said Dr. Rita Coram.

Medical video from Corewell Health shows Alania’s heart during the procedure.

"We didn’t have to do any surgery, it was all through a puncture through the groin vein and artery," the doctor said. "Very successful."

After the 45-minute procedure, Alania, 32, says she felt like she got her life back.

"I got to go back to school because of this, before I couldn’t walk through the school campus," she said.

And Alania makes it clear any person facing a medical challenge should never give up hope.

"Never take no as an answer," she said. "There is always a second opinion, sometimes a second, third, and a fourth opinion. You have to keep going - don’t give up."