GOSHEN — Steve Landis is able to take walks again, and just in time for the charity walk in his benefit this weekend.
Landis, 60, has been steadily recovering since receiving a heart transplant May 16. A virus he caught as a child resulted in years of heart issues that required mechanical heart valves in 1987 and a pacemaker in 2003.
His condition spurred a long decline in the health of his heart until early May, when he admitted himself to the IU Health Goshen emergency room because of shortness of breath.
From there, Landis was taken to a Fort Wayne hospital until he was taken to the Cleveland Clinic where he received his transplant.
This weekend marks three months since the transplant and Landis said he’s seen steady progress.
“It’s an adjustment,” he admitted, noting that doctors restrict his activity, including imposing a 15-pound limit on what he is allowed to lift.
The weight limit has been a bit frustrating. “There’s not much that weighs under 15 pounds,” Landis said. Included in what doesn’t weigh under 15 pounds are his grandchildren.
Landis hopes that when he sees his doctor at the end of the month, though, some of those restrictions will be eased.
He’s increased his walking distance to about a mile-and-a-half and at this point plans to take part in his 3-mile benefit walk Saturday at Shanklin Park.
Landis is pleased with his physical improvements and the interest in Saturday’s walk. “I’m looking forward to meeting a lot of people and being able to walk,” he said. He was not able to go for long-distance walks for the last several years because of his health.
With the physical improvement he’s experienced, the biggest issue for Landis now is his insurance expenses.
When his health began to rapidly decline earlier this year, his doctors advised him to leave his job. “I didn’t ever expect to retire due to my deteriorating condition,” he said.
Still, he heeded the orders and since March has battled his $1,400 per month insurance costs while on a low income.
In addition, Landis said disability compensation would not have kicked in for several more months and he was not yet eligible for Medicare. Even switching to Medicaid would have forced him to change doctors, something he was not prepared to do in the middle of the severe heart issues.
That need has led family and friends to organize this Saturday’s benefit walk.
The goal for the event is to have 100 participants bring in $150 each in sponsorships to help put a dent in Landis’ expenses.
From what Landis has heard, there should be quite a crowd participating Saturday. “I’m continually surprised at the number of people planning to be there,” he said.
The walk begins at 9 a.m. Saturday at Shanklin Park in Goshen. Anyone wishing to participate can contact Sallie Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 206-940-7819.
Donations can be made by visiting the Stevelandis site on www.caringbridge.org.
Landis is one of four Goshen residents to have received a heart transplant since July 2011. Here are updates on the other three:
Ken Horst received a transplant at IU Methodist Hospital in Indianpolis on July 8, 2011.
Horst recently passed the one-year mark from his operation, but hasn’t found his recovery to be very easy.
“The simple answer is that I’m OK,” he said. Though he’s been able to get back to favorite activities like raquetball and riding motorcycle, they have been on a limited basis and subject to how he’s feeling from day to day.
His mixture of medications has made things difficult for him. His body has also rejected part of the transplant and as a result, he recently had a stent inserted in a blocked artery.
Barrett Younghans, whose procedure was also performed at Methodist Hospital, received his new heart Feb. 12, 2012.
Younghans’ recovery has gone well and he has very few restrictions at this point. “I’m really enjoying doing all the things I couldn’t before,” he said.
Younghans will be returning to Valparaiso University next week to continue his college career.
The youngest of the heart recipients, 1-year-old Logan Leatherman, received a transplant May 10, less than a week before Landis.
According to Logan’s mother Holly, he is doing very well. Logan’s last biopsy showed his body had not rejected any of his new heart.
The Goshen DAV is holding a benefit ride for Logan beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday. A motorcycle/vehicle ride is scheduled for noon and a silent auction and refreshments will begin at 4 p.m.