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'It's a miracle': Columbia man becomes Saint Luke's 1,000th heart transplant recipient

St Lukes Mid America Heart Institute 1000th Heart Transplant Recipient
Posted at 6:59 PM, Oct 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-16 19:59:34-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Columbia, Missouri, man counts himself lucky a near "miracle" has given him the chance for a longer life.

John Harding, 53, was the 1,000th heart transplant recipient at Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute.

In January, Harding said he "didn't know what was happening" when he suffered a major heart attack.

"I never dreamed it was a heart attack," he said. "The guys got there and were like, 'Oh, you're having a heart attack, sir.' Oh great."

Doctors at University Hospital in Columbia helped connect Harding to Saint Luke's.

“He sustained a lot of heart damage from the heart attack, and with symptoms that were ongoing, it ended up landing him on the heart transplant list,” explained Dr. Brett Sperry, a cardiologist at Saint Luke's. “It’s a great gift from donors to be able to give this gift to patients who really need it."

Harding said the heart institute's "incredible" doctors got him "through the rough part," and now he's "ready to go."

“It’s kind of overwhelming," he said. "My sons and my wife mean the world to me, and I get to keep on with that.”