A heart full of love: Transplant recipients create support network

THE TOPEKA CAPITAL-JOURNAL |  Morgan Chilson

In six days, Zach Engelken will scuff his shoe on the pitcher’s mound, wind up and throw out the first pitch for the Kansas City Royals.

Just months ago, Engelken, a 31-year-old Seneca construction worker, was hooked to machines that kept his heart beating, knowing that a heart transplant was the only thing that might return him to a normal life.

A lifelong baseball player who once aspired to join the pros, that first pitch stands for every thing the University of Kansas Health Systems’ heart transplant program gave him back six months ago today, Jan. 17, when he became the fourth person in the program to get a new heart.

Engelken sported a No. 4 shirt on Sunday when he joined nine other heart transplant recipients for a backyard picnic as part of an informal support group started by transplant recipient No. 1, Rob Beck, to help each other take on the challenges of adapting to a new heart and lifestyle. Continue reading
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