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Our Patients, Their Stories

When their lives were on the line, these people came here and survived.

Zach Engelken: Heart transplant patientZach Engelken: Heart transplant
Young and healthy, Zach Engelken wrote off his symptoms of heart failure as just a bad cold. However, his condition worsened prompting his mother to ask for a referral to cardiologists at The University of Kansas Health System. Zack was diagnosed with acute heart failure and additional complications. His only hope was a new heart. 

John Findlay: Heart transplant patientJohn Findlay: Heart transplant
John Findlay was in denial about how sick he was. He had been diagnosed with a genetic heart disease while in college. But, it wasn't until his cardiologist told him to stop playing the bagpipes that he realized his condition was serious. Now, he's getting a second wind. 

Jerry Sheridan: Heart failure patientJerry Sheridan: Heart failure
Jerry Sheridan of Sheridan's Frozen Custard was always active in his family business and his community. But a deadly heart attack affected him so severely, doctors didn't expect him to live. A risky combination of treatments was his only hope for survival. 

Lola Brown: Heart transplant patientLola Brown: Heart transplant
Lola Brown, a geriatric nurse, was no stranger to caring for those with serious health conditions. But her advanced heart failure took her by surprise. To survive, Lola would need a heart transplant. 

Rich McArdle: Survived aortic aneurysmRich McArdle: Aortic aneurysm
When Rich McArdle went in for his yearly physical, he had no idea that doctors would find a weak spot in his main artery. "I thought the doctor was kidding when he told me I was going to have open heart surgery to fix it," he says. "I had no idea I was so sick." 

Leah Huss: Heart attack survivorLeah Huss: Heart attack
As a marathon runner and emergency room nurse, Leah Huss was used to tackling challenges. But her biggest challenge came when she suffered an unexpected, massive heart attack at just 39. 

Peggy Ann Bell: Epilepsy patientPeggy Ann Bell: Epilepsy 
This year Peggy Ann Bell plans to celebrate a meaningful landmark event, a seizure-free life. Thanks to a life-altering change, Peggy is now experiencing her life in a new way. Her epileptologist at The University of Kansas Health System says her future looks bright.

Ajiah RobinsonAjiah Robinson: Cancer survivor 
Kind and generous, but also immeasurably strong – that’s Ajiah Robinson, who fought a battle against osteosarcoma when she was just 12 years old.  The unique partnership between The University of Kansas Cancer Center and Children's Mercy Kansas City ensured Ajiah received the personalized care she needed.

Ashley Flynn: Colorectal cancer survivorAshley Havlena Flynn: Cancer survivor and proud mom 
Ashley Flynn went through treatment for colorectal cancer, diagnosed at a young age. Now, years later, with the help of advanced procedures, she is also a joyful mom. Learn how the team of care providers at The University of Kansas Health System worked together to help our former patient become pregnant after cancer treatment. 

Desiree Ramirez, first adult sickle-cell patient in Kansas to receive a bone marrow transplant.Desiree Ramirez: Sickle cell disease 
Diagnosed with sickle cell disease as a toddler, Desiree's health was failing. Hospital stays, pain and infections were normal as she battled the disease for more than 20 years. A trailblazing bone marrow transplant changed her life.  

Reggie Peoples: Tumor removed via minimally invasive procedureReggie Peoples: Pituitary tumor 
Reggie Peoples had an 8-year journey with his pituitary tumor. The tumor caused severe vision problems that resulted in a minimally invasive endoscopic procedure to remove it at The University of Kansas Health System. The day after his surgery, he found reason to dance with his children in his hospital room. 

Mila EllsworthMila Ellsworth: Cancer survivor 
A fierce competitor in softball, Mila earned pitching records in her youth and even played professionally in the Netherlands. That competitive spirit kicked into high gear when she found a lump in her breast. Determined to find answers, she came to The University of Kansas Cancer Center for a second opinion. Here she found the personalized treatment that was right for her.

Rick Younger: Epilepsy patientRick Younger: Epilepsy 
Despite having epilepsy since birth, Rick pursued a normal life. He married, had children and owns his own business. Still, the dread of seizures plagued him. He turned to us and learned of a new treatment for his condition. He says it was like "flipping a switch."

Damesha Seawood: Stroke survivorDamesha Seawood: Stroke survivor 
There is a short window for treatment when someone suffers a stroke. Damesha Seawood arrived at The University of Kansas Health System eight hours after suffering a stroke. Unable to speak clearly and paralyzed on her right side, the prognosis was poor. 

Diane Punch: Cadio-oncology patientDiane Punch: Cardio-oncology
Diane Punch survived cancer, but her cancer treatment led to severe heart damage. Initially, neither she nor her primary care doctor made the connection. With the help of the cardio-oncology program at The University of Kansas Health System, Punch is now back to her normal, busy lifestyle. 

Denise Bolin: Aortic aneurysm survivorDenise Bollin: Aortic aneurysm
Denise Bollin was enjoying a casual lunch when she suddenly felt a burning pain in her throat and chest. Within hours, she was undergoing a lifesaving procedure after learning that her aorta, the heart's main artery, was tearing apart. 

Ashlyn Julian: Neurology patientAshlyn Julian: "Superglue Baby"
When Ashlyn was just three weeks old, she had a seizure, and her brain started bleeding. That’s so rare in infants, only 17 cases in the world had been recorded in the last 65 years. Our doctors used a hair-thin guide and glue-like substance to save her life.

Roy Coe HeadshotRoy Coe: Lymphoma survivor
The treatment for Roy Coe's non-Hodgkin lymphoma was a stem cell transplant. He received a stem cell transplant for an unrelated donor. Only later did Coe find out, much to his surprise, that the donor who saved his life was also a player with the New Orleans Saints. But, there was one more surprise in store for Roy.

Andrew Claassen: Cancer survivorAndrew Claassen: Cancer survivor 
Andrew and Brieanna Claassen had plenty to focus on when beginning their new life together. But when they unexpectedly added Andrew’s cancer diagnosis to their challenges, they relied on expert care to see them through. 

Rebha Chalise: Encephalitis patientRebha Chalise: Rare brain condition 
Rebha was an active, happy teenager pursuing a psychology degree at Oklahoma Christian University, but all of that changed rapidly one day in 2012. A diagnosis for numbness in her limbs, speech and motor skills deterioration was elusive. Her physician at a local hospital referred her to our neurology specialists where she was diagnosed with a rare encephalitis. 

Jack McDonald: Parkinson's patientJack McDonald: Parkinson's disease
Jack McDonald is not one to talk about his bad days. A self-proclaimed optimist, the 68-year-old Parkinson's disease patient instead channels his energy into adding more good days to the tally. When he noticed progression in his disease, Jack looked to our Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorder Center for relief.

Alexis Delaney: Cancer survivor 
Swollen leg, back pain, fatigue – Alexis Delaney’s symptoms were certainly a concern, but not a cause for alarm. Then, in July 2014, her doctor delivered the news she had stage IV lung cancer and only a year to live. After receiving a second opinion from The University of Kansas Cancer Center, Alexis learned her cancer had a mutation that qualified her for treatment.

Jerry Casey: Kidney transplantJerry Casey III: Kidney transplant
Jerry Casey III, aka Jett, was born with posterior urethral valve syndrome that caused complete renal failure. But just before he turned two years old, he received a priceless gift from his father, Jerry Casey II, a kidney. The transplant was possible through the partnership of The University of Kansas Health System and Children's Mercy Kansas City.  

Molly Ogden: Young stroke survivorMolly Ogden: Stroke survivor 
No one expects a 16-year-old to have a stroke. But as the Ogden family learned, stroke doesn't discriminate. One day as Molly was getting ready for school, she suffered a massive stroke. Her pediatrician in rural Douglas County quickly had her transferred to our Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center.