Wichita man gets life-saving heart transplant

Updated: Jul 09, 2019 10:21 PM

A Wichita man received a heart transplant over sixth months ago saving him from his genetic heart condition.

Lance Barger suffers from Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, a genetic condition that runs in his family.

"His heart is excessively thick," said Nick Haglund, medical director of mechanical circulatory support programming at KU Medical Center in Kansas City. "Because his heart is so thick, it doesn't relax well and that ultimately leads to fluid retention."

According to Barger, his heart was so weak, it couldn't effectively pump blood throughout his body, so it filtered back through his organs. His three sisters, and his two kids have the same condition. However, he said he knew he had it, but he didn't know it was getting worse.

"I just reached a point where suddenly I could barely walk from the bedroom to the living room," Barger said.

Barger said he couldn't run or walk long distances, but doing things around his house wasn't a problem. After going to the hospital before to find out why he was feeling as bad as he was, they just told him to rest. Then, one day he suddenly passed out in his bathroom.

"I hit my face on the side of the bath tub, and Kelcy heard the crash and she came running in to check on me," Barger said. "She said that I was blue and unresponsive and my face was all bruised up."

His wife had it arranged to send him to the University of Kansas Health System. There, Haglund told them what was going on, giving them one option, a heart transplant. Barger said his sisters had gone through the same thing, making him the fourth heart transplant recipient in his family. He said he was hopeful, but still afraid.

"You don't know if you're going to make it out or not because anything could go wrong," he said.

He made it through the transplant, and Haglund said his recovery has gone well.

"His trajectory and his outcome after transplant has been one of the fastest and one of the most dramatic in patients that I've seen," Haglund said.

According to Barger, walks and hikes with his family have now become normal. He even trained for, and participated in a triathlon that included a one mile row, two mile run, and four mile stationary bike workout.

"I had beat all my trial times at the YMCA," he said. "And yeah that was awesome."

Barger said his children have medication to get through the condition right now. So, he said their summer plan is to visit as many parks in Wichita as they can.

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