LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A 29-year-old man who has defied the odds since birth is preparing to do it again as he waits for a heart transplant.
“I realized that life was too short and that I wasn’t going to just rollover and die,” said Mike Hargett, who weighed upwards of 400 pounds a little over a year ago.
His heart was failing.
Hargett needed a heart transplant but there were two obstacles in his way: his weight and the fact that he has hemophilia, a rare and serious blood clotting disorder that he was born with.
His mother, Lou Hall, says he almost died from complications on numerous occasions growing up.
“I can’t even tell you how many hospitalizations he’s gone through and I couldn’t even tell you the whole story unless we had like an hour and a half because it’s just one thing after another,” said Hall, who lives with Hargett in Portland, Oregon.
Every hospital he consulted for a transplant nearby rejected him because he is too high-risk.
He finally tried Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute and his cardiologist, Michelle Kittleson, said “yes.”
“Oh man, it was like so much more than winning the lottery,” he said. “Because I was turned down by four other institutions.”
But before he could get on the transplant list, Kittleson ordered him to lose a significant amount of weight. Thus far, he’s lost 250 pounds in a year.
“I quit my job fully. I started working out full-time,” he said.
Then, the doctors at Cedars had to take on a challenge of their own: preparing for the first heart transplant on a hemophiliac in the hospital’s history.
“Hemophilia in and of itself is an uncommon condition,” said Kittleson. “End-stage heart failure is uncommon. To have a patient with both end-stage heart failure requiring transplant and hemophilia, it’s not a common combination.”
Hargett has now been on the transplant list for almost two weeks. The average weight is about four to six weeks.
“It’s extremely hard, getting harder by the day and I’m trying to keep my mind occupied,” he said.
He has a bucket list of activities he wants to complete post-transplant, including returning to his job as a chef.
“I probably won’t see him much and he is threatening to stay in LA,” his mother said.
To follow Hargett’s journey, click here.