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Saint Luke's patient ready for 2nd chance at life after double transplant

Sedalia man defines odds and successfully recovers after double transplant
Posted at 5:00 AM, Aug 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-18 17:21:26-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Sedalia man says faith and a medical miracle gave him a second chance at life.

“There's two ways I could have went," recalled an emotional Kelly Anspaugh.

For years, the now 61-year-old Anspaugh played tug of war with death.

Twenty years ago, a virus attacked and weakened his heart, and to keep him alive, doctors implanted a life-saving heart pump in 2017, also known as an LVAD.

But in spring 2022, his heart could no longer function by itself, and doctors had to install a second heart pump.

Anspaugh says he was sure this was the last step of his journey because having two heart pumps isn't a long-term solution.

"I knew it was over because my wife's a nurse, and, you know, I can tell it in her eyes," Anspaugh said.

He was put on the heart transplant list, but due to his health and lack of blood flow, he was also in need of a kidney. Doctors gave him two options.

"We said okay, either we turn off the pump and let you die naturally or we can take a chance and see if we can do not only just a heart transplant, which by itself is difficult enough, but also at the same time do a kidney transplant," explained Dr. Andrew Kao with Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute.

However, after 10 days on the transplant list, a guardian angel came to Anspaugh's aide. He was matched with a donor, and this angel provided Anspaugh with both a new heart and kidney.

Out of more than 900 transplants at Saint Luke’s, 20-25 have been combined heart and kidney transplants. Anspaugh's surgery was long, but a success, and gave him the missing step he needed to continue this journey.

"This is beyond a miracle. I mean, I think if we had five patients like this, this could only happen in one person," Dr. Kao said.

But to Anspaugh, he thinks faith was all he needed when the deck was stacked against him.

"Just gotta believe and, you know, I wasn't a big fan of the Lord when I was younger, but I am now because the spirit, it now runs through," Anspaugh said.

Anspaugh says his future is full of big adventures with his wife, and he enjoys going up and down the stairs, something he wasn’t able to do for a while until now.