Olathe heart transplant patient offers advice

Posted at 5:44 PM, Feb 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-11 11:57:30-05

Life is great for 78-year-old Dennis Oetting of Olathe, Kansas.

As he marks his 25-year anniversary of having a donor heart, Oetting is encouraging people to live a heart-healthy life.

Oetting was 53 years old when he was taking a walk near the home where he still lives. He was about a half block away from the house when he had the heart attack. 

"I knew no one was around, so I managed to walk back to my house and I got to the front door and went inside and just laid on the floor," Oetting said. "My wife knew something was very wrong, and she called 911." 

He went to the hospital and doctors realized his heart was in such bad shape that they were going to give him an artificial heart to keep him alive. He was also put on the heart transplant list. 

Amazingly, in four days after being placed on the transplant list, a donor heart matching Oetting was available, and he had his transplant surgery.

With his donor heart, Oetting has experienced a lifetime of memories. He has walked his daughter down the aisle for her wedding and he became a grandfather with two grandsons. 

"I've made hundreds of speeches since receiving my heart and a new lease on life," he said.

In every speech he tells people to live a heart-healthy life by eating nutritious meals and exercising at least three or four days a week. 

Oetting received his transplant surgery at Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute. Saint Luke's is celebrating 30 years of providing heart transplants. Oetting is one of the earliest transplant patients. His doctor was Dr. Michael Borkon, who is still performing heart transplants at Saint Luke's. 

In the 25 years since his surgery, procedures for heart transplants have changed. Medical experts explain that the transplant itself is essentially the same, but heart transplant patients are asked to get up and walk sooner and allowed to go home sooner than they were 25 or 30 years ago.

For more information about heart healthy lifestyles, visit the American Heart Association of Kansas City.


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