SALISBURY TWP., Pa. -

A new procedure at the Lehigh Valley Health Network is simplifying heart surgery.

It's called Transcatheter aortic valve replacement or TAVR.

The hospital performed its first surgery using the procedure on May 16th on 72-year-old Richard Check.

The surgery allows people who are at a high-risk for conventional open-heart surgery the option of having their aortic valves replaced without doctors opening up their chests.

Instead, a catheter is inserted through a muscle in their groin, and doctors use a balloon to replace the valve.

"The hope for the future is that patients as they get older, even 85 to 90 years old who are otherwise active but for their blocked valve, might be able to undergo this life saving procedure without having to undergo open heart surgery," said Dr. Raymond Singer.

"It's great! It's great," said Check. "I could hardly breathe before. I had a terrible time breathing and its been so good, it's like it used to be."

Lehigh Valley Hospital was one of the first in the country approved by the FDA for this kind of valve replacement.