Kansas high school baseball pitcher overcomes heart transplant to play again
"He's a good pitcher. He throws a lot of offspeed. He throws strikes. He's not gonna overpower you by any means but he throws the ball really well." That's how Goddard Eisenhower head baseball coach Cary Dinkel described one of his starters, Senior Josh Oakley.
Josh started noticing a difference in his stamina towards the end of his Junior season. Oakley explained, "Things weren't right probably even last spring. I was just getting fatigued easier. But I just thought I was getting out of shape I guess."
Eventually the fatigue caught up with him, leading to a string of doctor visits throughout the summer.
"We couldn't figure out what was going on at all until early August, I went to the doctor and they did an x-ray and found out that my heart was twice the size it was supposed to be," he recalled. "I just kind of thought, 'Okay, I'll take a couple months off or something and get back into it.' I had no idea that I would be in the hospital the next day getting airlifted to Kansas City."
He was diagnosed with Dialated Cardio Myopathy, in need of immediate treatment. He was flown to Children's Mercy in Kansas City and placed on a heart transplant list with the life-threatening condition.
Oakley spent six weeks waiting for a new heart, while his own began to fail him.
One night, the doctors informed the Oakley family that Josh's health was in a dire state.
But in miraculous timing, the very next day, his family got the news: Josh had a match. He underwent heart transplant surgery and shortly after was already asking about getting back on the field.
"They said it was a perfect match for my body and that if I wanted to and could get back to it, that I was completely cleared to do it," said Oakley.
Four months later, Josh took the walk he'd set a goal to take again, the one from the dugout to the pitcher's mound. He showed everyone what having heart is really about.
"It was awesome to get back out and get my first start. I tried to just treat it like any other start I've ever had but it definitely meant more than any other one I've ever had."
See the full story via KAKE.
Read more about Children's Mercy's Ward Family Heart Center.