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Richmond man survives 7 open heart surgeries

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Posted at 6:28 PM, Apr 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-12 09:39:08-04

RICHMOND, Ky. (LEX 18) — Skylar King’s parents knew something wasn’t right the day he was born 25 years ago this month. At five days old, he had open heart surgery, the first of four such operations before the age of five.

The hard work of all the surgeons and medical experts paid off, as Skylar enjoyed a normal childhood while growing up in Richmond.

“I just like, just thought it was not really normal, but it didn’t really hold me back”, says Skylar. “ (I) played baseball, basketball, fished, golfed…anything I could do. I loved running. Like I didn’t see myself different than anybody else. I just lived life.”

A normal boy doing normal things, until he fell ill as a young man on a vacation to Florida just before the pandemic. That led to another series of tests and then Skylar got the news.

“They let me know that my heart wasn’t doing the best. I was scared and I kept telling myself (that) I was in denial. I told myself ‘you know, they’re probably just overreacting’”, Skylar recalls.

But they weren’t and three months later, Skylar underwent open heart surgery #5.

And then more bad news – all of the heart issues had caused damage to his liver. So, in June 2020, 22-year-old Skylar underwent heart – and liver – transplant surgeries.

“They was like ‘well, you made history’. And I was like ‘what do you mean?’”, Skylar says. “They said I was the first person to ever have a heart and liver transplant after I had a VAD taken out. The metal device.”

Last summer, Skylar was back in the operating room again, this time to repair his aorta. A seventh open heart surgery and three of them in just two years.

He admits that with every call and every scare, there were moments of doubt.

“I thought I was gonna die”, he says slowly, recalling the emotions. “It was scary. I mean, like I knew something was going on but I didn’t know what I could do. And while I was accepting it, I was also in denial. I didn’t want to accept that I was bad sick.

“I felt like all through that time, it was like I’d take one step forward, two steps back. It was like I couldn’t win.”

Today, victory is his. Skylar’s worked at A-G-C in Richmond for the past five years and now has a new girlfriend. He dreams of one day having his own family.

“I actually feel like I have a future, you know. Like I have a meaning in life”, Skylar sighs and then breaks out into a grin.

“In the end, it was all worth it.”