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Meet the man who received Saint Luke's 800th heart transplant

Posted: 2:27 PM, Oct 01, 2018
Updated: 2018-10-01 22:12:21Z

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute is celebrating a major milestone with the help of a heart transplant patient.

Henry Myers of Springfield was diagnosed with congestive heart failure in 2010. When the time finally came for a transplant, he said Saint Luke's was his first choice. 

"I knew there had been 799 before me, so I thought the odds were pretty good," Myers said. 

You read that right: Myers is the 800th patient to receive a heart transplant at Saint Luke's. For him, the new organ means more time for all the items on his bucket list.

"Main thing was walking my daughter down the aisle... outlive my dog... and just watch my son graduate with his master's. All the little things," Myers said. 

Hearing his patient say that was emotional for Dr. Andrew Kao, the medical director of heart transplant at Saint Luke's.

"Tears came to my eyes when I heard that," he said.

Saint Luke's ranks among the top 15 in the nation for the number of adult transplants performed. Kao crunched the numbers and calculated that the 800 transplants add up to 2.1 million days of life for their recipients.

"That's a lot of weddings and graduations and births that these people otherwise would not have seen or witnessed, and that's really overwhelming," he said.

The hospital is known not only for its volume, but also for its short wait times. More than 80 percent of patients receive transplants within one year.

For Henry Myers, the wait was about a month.

"I'm very fortunate, and I think all the people before me are very fortunate and special, but if this is going to be my 15 minutes of fame, I'll take it," he said with a smile.

Myers is considering taking advantage of another Saint Luke's program 41 Action News featured earlier this year. Transplant recipients are able to view and say goodbye to their native hearts.