Press Release

Still Married After All These Years

February 2nd, 2016
ROSLYN, New York - For 97-year-old Antony Leto, it seems like only yesterday when he first met his beloved bride he still calls “Babe.” But their relationship has lasted nearly seven decades. The retired butcher has two reasons to celebrate this Valentine’s Day. It marks the fifth anniversary of receiving a lifesaving cardiac procedure at St. Francis Hospital and being married to his wife, Fanny, for 68 years.

Leto was the first patient on Long Island to receive the revolutionary CoreValve, a transcatheter device that allows patients with aortic valve stenosis who are too elderly or ill to avoid open heart surgery. Five years after being implanted with the minimally invasive device, Leto and his wife had a pre-Valentine’s Day reunion at St. Francis, receiving hearts and flowers from the doctors and nurses who saved him.  

Newell Robinson, MD, chairman of cardiothoracic and vascular surgery at St. Francis, held a stethoscope to the chest of his history-making patient and, after hearing the results, remarked, “Sounds as good as the day we put it in.” Robinson, who oversaw the replacement with George Petrossian, MD, co-director of the Heart Valve Center at St Francis, said: “This therapy came along at a great time.”

The new lease on life has given Leto and his wife a chance to travel to their timeshare in Aruba and pursue his passion of growing fig trees in the backyard of their West Hempstead home. The Italian immigrant, who grew up poor and prides himself on the crown pork roasts he brought home as a butcher, also cooks and cleans for the love of his life. He recently drove her for a special birthday meal in his prized Cadillac.

The couple credits their longstanding relationship to good-natured bantering. “We argue a lot,” said Mrs. Leto with a sweet smile. “But I always let her win,” added her adoring husband. Although they recently gave up their timeshare, they still maintain their first priority in life. “We have each other, and that’s enough,” he said.

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