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Ju Ju’s Risk and Reward

SCRANTON -- A woman from Scranton proves that sometimes taking a risk is worth the reward and for her, the reward is a chance to see 101 years old.

She rolled the dice a few weeks ago and underwent a new type of heart surgery designed for people in their 80s. At 100, she is one of the oldest people in the country to get the surgery.

We were really hoping we'd get to see Ju Ju Vergnetti again and we did at her home on Scranton's east mountain, about two weeks after having heart surgery.

We last saw her in December at Geisinger Community Medical Center. While reporting on a feel-good Christmas story, our cameras caught her eye, and her story captivated us.

At 100 years old, she knew she was rolling the dice having a valve in her heart replaced.

"If I take the risk, maybe I'll last another hundred years!" she laughed.

She is lasting -- loving life and grateful.

"Happy to be alive, let's put it that way," she said. "it was pretty close."

All things considered, Ju Ju has always been in great shape but back in December, she started having shortness of breath.

"I was great, and then all of a sudden I couldn't breathe."

It was scary for JU ju and her three children. She would need a valve replacement to survive but was turned down three times for open-heart surgery because of her age.

Then, a new option and a new doctor came about.

"feel great, feel great, thanks to Dr. Sexy!"

His actual name is Dr. Nishant Sethi. He's a bit bashful about the nickname Ju Ju's given him but she will go down as one of his most memorable patients.

Ju Ju is the third oldest person to undergo the noninvasive transcatheter aortic valve replacement surgery or TAVR.

"When I told somebody we're going to a TAVR on a 100 year old, the first thing they thought was, 'you're definitely crazy.'" Dr. Sethi recalled.

Dr. Sethi is a cardiologist for Commonwealth Health Heart and Vascular Institute. He says TAVR surgery is designed for people in their 80s.

Ju Ju is the exception but not the rule.

"I think that she is the perfect example that you don't have to say, 'this is it.'"

Ju Ju is looking forward to turning 101 on November 6.

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