Hearts and holidays: Wichita man finds new energy after transplant

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Footprints in the snow outside Lance Barger’s Wichita home represent the new life and experiences he is able to enjoy with the help of a new heart.

Barger suffered from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM, since he was a child. The condition is a thickening of the heart ventricle’s walls, obstructing blood flow.

According to the American Heart Association: Some people who have HCM have no signs or symptoms, and the disease doesn’t affect their lives. Others have severe symptoms and complications. They may have shortness of breath, serious arrhythmias or an inability to exercise.

The disease has a strong genetic component. Barger says he lost his mother to the disease when she was in her 40’s. He and his wife, Kelcy, have two children also with HCM.

“Annabelle knows if she gets tired, she needs to rest. She’s a very responsible kid so she’s very good at doing that,” Barger said.

When Barger was in school at Garden City Community College, he went into tachycardia, where his heart was beating at 230 beats per minute. He was air-lifted from Garden City to Wichita and received a pacemaker.

The real change came in October 2018, when Barger received a new heart via transplant.

“Post-transplant, I felt like I can do anything. Pretty soon after physical therapy, I started going to the gym and running and participated in a triathlon,” Barger says.

Barger’s sister also is a transplant recipient.

“You know when you go into the DMV and they ask you to be an organ donor we would encourage everybody to please say yes,” Barger said.

At the first snow of the season, Barger and daughter Annabelle played outside in the snow, making dinosaur tracks with their feet. He also had the energy to hang Christmas lights this year.

“Just living like I imagine most normal people experience everyday,” Barger said.

RESOURCES:

For anyone going through the same situation or a caregiver looking for more support, the American Heart Association has an online Support Network.

Cold heart facts: why you need to watch out in winter.

American Heart Association – holiday healthy eating guide

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