Fixing a Hole in Her Heart: Shannon's Story

Shannon Clayton 5.4.21

Pictured from left to right are Dr. V. Antoine Keller, patient Shannon Clayton and Dr. Niksad Abraham. 

Shannon Clayton, 46 of Ponchatoula, was suffering from fatigue and lack of energy. She had a history of diabetes and open heart bypass surgery. She was having trouble breathing, and was on home oxygen, about four liters a day. She felt like something must be wrong with her health, an underlying issue, but she wasn’t sure what that was. One evening, while driving, she experienced a mild stroke. She made it home and went to sleep, but woke up to worsening symptoms. An ambulance was called and she ended up at the hospital.

She was told her stroke and shortness of breath was due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). “They sent me home on oxygen, and said it was just my COPD,” she explained. However, her symptoms worsened and she sought a second opinion. “I couldn’t walk five steps by myself without oxygen,” she explained. She was referred to Dr. Niksad Abraham, interventional cardiologist at Cardiovascular Institute of the South in Baton Rouge.

“Shannon was sent to us for her COPD,” said Dr. Abraham. “However, we found a large hole in her heart; this is what we call an atrial septal defect, and that was the problem the whole time.” Dr. Abraham, along with cardiovascular surgeon Dr. V. Antoine Keller, performed an interventional outpatient procedure using the AMPLATZERTM Septal Occluder device at Baton Rouge General to close the hole in Shannon’s heart. “It’s like my little thumb tack,” Shannon laughed.


Atrial septal defects
increase the amount of blood that flows through the lungs which, over time, can damage the blood vessels in the lungs. Sometimes, these holes may close on their own or may be small, without a need for treatment. However, depending on the severity of the symptoms, a procedure may be necessary to correct the condition. In Shannon’s case, this hole was causing her severe symptoms, and this procedure was the answer to relieving those symptoms.

“This device offers many benefits to patients, including a quicker recovery time,” said Dr. Abraham. “By using this minimally-invasive technique to close a hole in a patient’s heart, a patient can go home the same day of their procedure.”

Shannon did go home that day, and from that day forward, she has not had to use oxygen. “I felt like I could conquer the world after that,” she said. Now almost a year later, Shannon is still off of the oxygen. “This was a life-changing procedure for her,” said Dr. Abraham.

Dr. Antoine V. Keller said, “We sincerely appreciate the trust that Ms. Clayton had in our team and value our partnership with Dr. Abraham as his clinical acumen, superb intellect and compassion have greatly enhanced our structural heart program at Baton Rouge General.

Shannon encourages others to seek out a second opinion if they are suffering with symptoms. “I knew something didn’t feel right; I felt very sick,” she explained. She is so thankful to Dr. Abraham and the team at CIS. “Dr. Abraham and his team are so awesome. That man saved my life!”

Now Shannon can spend time with her grandson and she can’t say enough about Dr. Abraham, the man who fixed her heart—and her life. “He’s a great doctor, and a good man. He fixed me, and I’m so appreciative of him.”

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CIS Staff

Written by CIS Staff