Heart Transplant for Ken Holthaus

Thank you for taking the time to check out Ken's story.  It means a lot to us that you would consider helping Ken and Amy through this hardship so that they can concentrate on getting Ken healthy again.

On October 16, 2018, Ken had a massive heart attack at the age of 48 years old.  He had not been feeling his best for the last couple of years and was taking steps to improve his health on his own since the doctors were not finding anything wrong with him.  He stopped smoking, started working out on an elliptical, and was eating healthy meals.  Still, he seemed to be getting worse and finally asked his wife, Amy, to take him to Nashville, TN because the Bowling Green, KY doctors were providing no answers.

Ken and Amy drove first to Skyline Hospital, where they estimated that Ken's heart was only functioning at 20%.  Three hours later, he was moved by ambulance to Centennial Hospital and was only there a short time when he went into cardiac arrest.  Within the first 24 hours there, Ken coded 5 times and was saved each time by the doctors.  He was placed on an ECMO and Impella machine to let his heart rest.

On October 18, 2018, Ken underwent a triple bypass.  Two major arteries were 100% blocked, the third major artery was 80% blocked, and his heart was now estimated to be functioning only at 7% and hanging on by a thread.  In this same surgery, a Centrimag pump was added to keep his heart pumping.  The hope was that this device would take over the "work" of the heart and allow Ken's heart to recover.  Instead, Ken continued to be on life support and repeatedly went into Vfib, which means that he was basically coding.  Thankfully, the pump was pro-fusing blood to his brain and organs, but because the doctors were still hopeful that his heart would recover, they had to shock him each time to bring his heart rhythm back to normal to protect the right side of his heart.  After the initial coding that happened in the first 24 hours, Ken went into Vfib and coded an additional 16 times putting his total shocks at about 60 times in the first week of being admitted to Centennial.

At this point, the Centennial doctors realized that Ken's heart was too damaged to ever recover and started reaching out to Vanderbilt to see if he could get put on the transplant list.  The doctors had to present Ken's case in front of a committee that would decide if he should get a new heart and he was accepted onto the list.  Because of his deteriorating condition and dependency on the Centrimag pump, Ken was placed at the top of the list in the entire region.  Ken was transferred to Vanderbilt and within four hours of being placed on the list, we were told that they may have a heart for Ken.

On October 25, 2018, Ken received a new heart.  We feel so sad that this had to come about because of a tragedy for another family and are blessed and humbled that someone was willing to become an organ donor and give another person, a total stranger, a chance at a new life.  Please pray for this family.

We share all of these details with you to help you understand how God had his hand on Ken this entire time.  Ken would not be alive today had it not been for God's grace and His amazing presence over the doctors and nurses who cared for Ken.

Ken was released from ICU on November 3, 2018 and is currently at Vanderbilt in their step-down unit.  He has a long road ahead of him and continues to be at risk for blood clots (he currently has five) and collapsed lungs (still has one chest tube) and of course, the ongoing risk of infection and rejection of the heart. 

Ken and Amy will experience a great deal of expense over the next year as they work on getting Ken healthy.  They will have to live in Nashville for six weeks once he is released from the hospital so that the doctors can continue to keep a close eye on him.  Once home, Ken will have to have biopsies of the heart and checkups done frequently throughout the first year so there will be lots of travel expenses from Bowling Green to Nashville.  For the rest of Ken's life, he will have to take immune suppressants that will keep his body from rejecting his new heart, insulin to stabilize his blood sugar, and shots in his abdomen to prevent blood clots.  He is expected to be on 16-19 meds, 3-4 of which will be very expensive.  Just for the first 4-6 months, Ken will have to take a heart medicine that insurance will not cover costing them $3,500 out of pocket each month.  He will also have to undergo a 12-week treatment for his new heart because it was positive for Hepatitis C.  This treatment will cost $94,000 alone.  All of this with no income coming in (Amy will not be able to return to work for at least the first year and her current boss is refusing to pay unemployment) and in addition to normal household bills that are still accumulating.  

As this financial burden can be overwhelming, we are asking for your help in alleviating some of the financial stress that Ken and Amy will have through this journey.  No donation is too small and every donation is so appreciated.  We especially appreciate the prayers that have been carrying him along so far and would love for you to continue praying throughout this next year. 

Please consider sharing Ken's story with others so that they may have an opportunity to help as well.  We all look forward to the day that Ken can enjoy his life again with family and friends and continue in his passion of creating beautiful pieces of artwork.


Donations (0)

  • Mary Evans 
    • $25 
    • 6 mos
  • Cathy Palmer 
    • $50 
    • 6 mos
  • Pamela Napier 
    • $25 
    • 6 mos
  • Sheila Reeves 
    • $25 
    • 6 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $100 
    • 7 mos

Fundraising team: Kendalini (5) 

Tara C. Nardella 
Raised $75 from 2 donations
Bowling Green, KY
Amy Holthaus 
Tamara Egan 
Team member
Raised $1,105 from 4 donations
Tina Smith 
Team member
Raised $250 from 1 donation
This team raised $2,690 from 44 other donations.
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