MEET ADAM BURKHART: HEART RECIPIENT AND THREE-TIME TRANSPLANT GAMES PARTICIPANT
Adam Burkhart’s story
Zanesville, Ohio is home to 33-year-old, Adam Burkhart, his wife Kali and his two daughters. Six years after Adam was born, he was diagnosed with familial dilated non-obstructive cardiomyopathy, a genetic heart disease. Because Adam wasn’t the first family member to receive this diagnosis, his loved ones knew that he would eventually need a life-saving heart transplant.
At 17, Dr. Binkley of the Ohio State Medical Center said something to Adam that he would never forget, “It’s time to get serious about a heart transplant.”
Although Adam knew this day would come, he was terrified. He had so much life to live. In some ways, he felt grateful that he and his family knew this day would come. Not everyone in need of a heart transplant has time to prepare.
Happy, scared, nervous and very sad – these are the feelings Adam experienced after hearing a potential match was available. In 2000, just days before his 18th birthday, Adam received his heart transplant. Adam had been waiting at the OSU Wexner Medical Center for seven months for this news.
“I couldn't help but think that my life was going to go on because someone else's came to an end. It is a very hard concept to deal with at times. At the same time, I knew this was the only way I was going to go home and see my family again,” says Adam.
His donor’s name was Matthew, a 24-year-old who tragically passed away in a car accident. Adam and his family have met Matthew’s family a few times, and they keep in contact with each other. The Burkharts’ second-born-child, a girl they call “Mattie,” was named after Matthew.
“Without the loving decision of my donor family saying ‘yes’ to donation, I would not be here today. And in turn my two beautiful daughters wouldn't be here either. I’m also able to continue playing golf, which is a game I love so much,” says Adam.
Adam’s wife may not share the same excitement for golf as he does, but nonetheless, he golfs every chance he is allowed, err, gets. His family also loves to travel, but being a dad is by far the greatest gift Adam has received after his transplant.
The success of Adam’s transplant sparked his aunt Nancy, a registered nurse, to donate a kidney to one of her patients at the hospital. She’s just one example of the many incredible donor and transplant stories Adam has heard.
Adam has participated in three different Transplant Games. At this year’s games, Adam’s competitive nature will be put to the test in golf. Adam is excited to participate in the Transplant Games again and says, “One of the best aspects of the Transplant Games is that you may meet a living donor, or a heart recipient, or kidney, lung, pancreas, etc., but no one’s story is exactly the same. It feels very promising and gratifying to talk with others who have been affected by transplantation in one of many ways.”
As for people uncertain about registering as organ, eye and tissue donors, Adam says, “Please check into the facts and myths of organ, eye and tissue donation. There are a great deal of myths that don’t portray donation in the right light.”
ADAM BURKHART QUICK FACTS:
Lives: Zanesville, OH
Connection to donation community: Heart Recipient
Number of Transplant Games attended: 3
Transplant Games sports: Golf
If you could spend the day with any athlete, dead, alive, or fictional, who would it be?
“For me it would not be an athlete. It would be a coach. Mike Kzyzewski. I am a huge DUKE fan and I think the world of that man. His lessons on the court and in life are top notch. He seems like a great human being with a lot of great insight,” says Adam.
Favorite athlete: “Oh so many...Christian Laettner, J.J. Redick, Paul Azinger, Jack Nicklaus, Eddie George, Roger Federer,” says Adam.
Favorite professional sport: “I’m more into college sports, such as Ohio State Football and Duke Basketball. In terms of professional sports, I would have to say golf,” says Adam.
Favorite quote: "Treat others the way you want to be treated" -My father, Mike Burkhart