Archive for Monday, October 27, 2008

Survivor stresses importance of flu shots

Prairie Park School counselor Ed Barnhart reads to Angelyn Gargano's kindergarten class on Thursday. Barnhart recently returned to his position after being absent since February while he recovered from a near-fatal bout of influenza A.

Prairie Park School counselor Ed Barnhart reads to Angelyn Gargano's kindergarten class on Thursday. Barnhart recently returned to his position after being absent since February while he recovered from a near-fatal bout of influenza A.

October 27, 2008


Survivor stresses importance of flu shots

Doctors are calling a local man a 'walking miracle' after defeating a deadly virus. 6News reporter Chardae Davis joins us now to tell us about his miraculous recovery. Enlarge video

Flu can be a deadly disease

Prairie Park School counselor Ed Barnhart survived a long fight earlier this year against influenza A. He's now a strong advocate for people getting the flu vaccine. And for good reason. Last flu season was particularly deadly for Kansans.

According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment:

¢ In the 2007-2008 flu season: 51 deaths in Kansas were linked directly to flu. Another 667 people died from pneumonia, while in the deaths of another 1,297 people, flu or pneumonia were contributing factors.

¢ In the 2006-2007 flu season: Four deaths in the state were linked directly to flu. Another 572 people died from pneumonia, and in the deaths of another 1,138 people, flu or pneumonia were contributing factors.

¢ In the 2005-2006 flu season: 21 Kansans' deaths were linked directly to flu. Another 543 people died from pneumonia, and in the deaths of another 1,266 people, flu or pneumonia were contributing factors.

When doctors at St. Francis Hospital in Topeka gave Ed Barnhart less than a 10 percent chance to live, pus had wrapped around his lungs and leached the air out of them, suffocating him from within. His temperature hit 106; his heart was beating dangerously fast. He'd contracted staph, strep throat and pneumonia.

Barnhart, 57, was battling for his life against influenza A.

He somehow pulled through, and recently he returned to work as a counselor at Prairie Park School.

Barnhart's wife, Jennifer, says God performed a miracle in keeping him alive. His doctor, Stephanie Blanken, a cardio-tracheologist at St. Francis, says it's nothing short of a medical miracle.

"Was it a miracle? Yeah," Blanken said. She said Barnhart's condition was one of the worst she has ever seen. According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, 51 deaths in the state were linked directly to influenza A and B last flu season.

The longest Lent

It started last Feb. 10, Ash Wednesday, as Barnhart sat in church.

"I feel awful," he told his wife.

Barnhart, a long-distance runner, went for a jog after the service. That night, his temperature skyrocketed to 103 degrees.

His wife drove him from their home in Osage City to St. Francis, and after an evaluation, they were told Barnhart simply had the flu. Twelve hours later, he was all but comatose.

The Barnharts returned to St. Francis, and a team of physicians diagnosed him with Influenza A. He would spend the next five and a half weeks drifting in and out of consciousness, fighting for his life.

"The only things they fear are Influenza A and bird flu, because either one of them could kill thousands," Barnhart said. Doctors told him that his symptoms mirrored those of the Spanish flu outbreak of 1918. That pandemic also involved a strain of Influenza A.

Barnhart says he's been told that a priest joined his family in his hospital room during the first days. They recited the Lord's Prayer. He doesn't remember that.

Just how Barnhart contracted Influenza A provides a warning to people who do not seek out flu vaccinations. Doctors suspect he breathed in the virus, or touched a surface previously touched by someone who carried the virus.

"They were Typhoid Mary, basically," said Barnhart, who didn't get a flu shot last year.

He developed pneumonia, which caused pus to fill and envelop his lungs. That, in turn, caused sepsis, an infection of the blood.

The pus that gripped his lungs could have been deadly. Jennifer Barnhart corresponded by e-mail with a friend, who chronicled Barnhart's fight. In a Feb. 15 e-mail, she wrote that Barnhart's lung "looked like melted cheese in pizza sauce."

His kidneys were failing, and Blanken says he was on the verge of needing a heart transplant.

He was on so many blood thinners that doctors installed a tracheostomy tube to help him breathe. One day, the tube blew out of his throat, spewing three pints of blood.

"I thought I was dying," Barnhart said. "I could see the blood splatters on the wall as it was coming out of my mouth, and I thought I was dead. I figured this was it, and I was beginning to suffocate."

He was rushed to intensive care and doctors stopped the bleeding. Within days, Barnhart was on his feet, even walking up and down stairs.

His recovery was moving fast, and he was released from St. Francis on Good Friday.

He and his wife can joke about it a little bit: "We think we'll do Lent differently than we did this year," he said.

Home, at last

After being released from St. Francis, Barnhart returned home to Osage City. He was supposed to spend six months at a rehabilitation facility, but doctors were so impressed by his recovery, they allowed him to go home.

"It has been nothing short of miraculous," Jennifer Barnhart said. "The fact that he was able to walk out of the hospital and begin the process of recovery is nothing short of a miracle."

But there were challenges ahead.

Barnhart couldn't speak until July, lingering effects of the tracheostomy tube that pressed against his vocal cords. He was weak. His weight dropped from 210 pounds to 179. His vision was blurred, and his balance unsteady.

Barnhart credits his wife and two children, William, 25, and Julia, 18, with his recovery.

"It's changed my whole family. We are the Waltons. We come together often and share often, but it's helped us come closer together," he said.

Jennifer Barnhart said she left her husband's bedside only twice: Once to help Julia pre-enroll at Kansas State University, and the other time to help Julia pick a prom dress.

"My wife and I have been married for 34 years (in December)," he said. "I loved her before. If you told me you could love your wife more, I'd say that's not possible."

Healing with prayer

Jennifer Barnhart said faith got them through the ordeal.

"Faith in God, and tons of love and support from family and friends and colleagues," she said.

Barnhart says he finds it easier to pray now, especially during the hourlong commute from Osage City.

"Prayer is a real comfortable feeling," he said. "I find myself collected in a prayer that some mornings run most of an hour, and that's different than I used to approach the prayer piece."

Back to work

Barnhart returned to work in September, but not before having two balloons placed in his heart to clear aortal blockage. Then, in early September, he lost his balance and fell upon an upended chair. The chair's metal legs caused a four-and-a-half inch gash to open in his stomach lining. He underwent another surgery.

But now he is back at work, and aiming for a long-distance run in May, perhaps in Kansas City or Oklahoma City.

David Williams, principal at Prairie Park, said Barnhart's return was welcome.

"He's more like his old self than he was when he first came back (in September)," he said. "He's just gotten stronger, and just done really, really well."

Williams said children noticed Barnhart's weight loss, and that he moved slower.

But, "they realized he was the same old Mr. Barnhart," Williams said.

And now that he's taken up his familiar spot as Prairie Park's unofficial greeter, things seem back to normal.

"It's wonderful to be back. I missed it," he said. "I'm alive for some reason. ... I love these kids, and I can make a difference. I think I've been kept alive to make a difference."

There's one thing he'll do for sure: Get a flu shot. He's looking forward to getting one this week. He hopes others will use his illness as motivation to get the vaccine.

"This is what we can do, because I don't hear any of these medical people saying these diseases are going to become less. I hear them saying they're going to get worse," he said.


dagger 9 years, 6 months ago

We are so glad your back and doing well. My kids, from 5th grade at prairie park to south 9th grade to LHS senior love you and prayed for you. You have impacted their lives and my senior wouldnt have made it without you. God does have you here for a reason.

itsme 9 years, 6 months ago

Well I hope he didnt spend time at "SELECT SPECIALITY HOSPITAL" located in Saint Francis's building in Topeka. Those people dont care about patients, won't even answer the bedside buzzer requests of patients (they will turn off the alarm from their console so they dont have to hear it), Claudia is the worst, rude, mean, a know it all, doesn't care about patients, obviously hates her job and the people. if you want to ensure your family memeber is going to DIE, check them into Select Specialty. They will do anything they can to DENY medical service if THEY have decided you should die. Isn't that called MURDER?

appleaday 9 years, 6 months ago

80% of those who have received the flu shot do not get the flu when exposed.Influenza can be deadly, especially for the very young and the elderly or anyone else already debilitated. The reason healthy people are encouraged to get the vaccine is so that the incidence of flu is decreased and those too young or too debilitated to get the vaccine are less likely to be exposed.

gr 9 years, 6 months ago

""They were Typhoid Mary, basically," said Barnhart, who didn't get a flu shot last year."So would Barnhart be called "Typhoid Larry"?He seems upset that he caught it from someone. It wouldn't be a flu if no one had it. If he really believes in flu shots, why didn't he have one instead of blaming someone for giving the flu to him. If he had got a flu shot, yet still got the flu, what would his reaction be?A question I have yet to see answered is, How is the effectiveness of a flu vaccine determined?I mean, I see things like 80% effective. Is it determined with humans? And how is it determined? How would one set up an experiment to determine that?

Ragingbear 9 years, 6 months ago

~~Barnhart, 57, was battling for his life against influenza A~~Strange, according to the paragraph before that, "He'd contracted staph, strep throat and pneumonia."Staph is something you get at hospitals (most of the time). Strep throat and pneumonia are rampant at hospitals as well. Most likely, this guy got sick and went to the hospital, where he then got an infection that nearly killed him. It was the opportunistic diseases that got him with a weakened immune system. If he had gone when the earliest stages of these diseases hit, he would have been fine. That is assuming that he didn't get the infections from the hospital itself.95% of the population does not need a flu shot. The very young, the very old, and those with compromised immune systems need them. The rest need to just take vitamins, drink plenty of fluids, and be willing to sweat it out. This is pretty much another "panic article" trying to get people to blow money on something they do not need. Get Great Grandma a flu shot. Get your 2 year old a flu shot. Everyone else doesn't need one.

Jeanette Reiling 9 years, 6 months ago

Prairie Park would never be the same without Mr. Barnhart! The children there are the reason he is here and that he survived. He has touched so many lives. Welcome back Mr. Barnhart!

KansasPerson 9 years, 6 months ago

webmocker's right -- during the flu of 1918, it was mostly the healthy young adults who died. Having a good immune system actually worked against you in that case.

Mkh 9 years, 6 months ago

Wasn't the Spanish Flu of 1918 spread primarily by vaccinations?Also, I've heard that the last few years the CDC has NOT gotten the strain of the flu vaccination right and have been injecting people with a different flu than the one getting people sick.

Maddy Griffin 9 years, 6 months ago

Welcome back Mr. Barnhart!! I was so glad to see you back out directing traffic in the school parking lot. No telling how many lives you save out there everyday after school.You were in my prayers during your ordeal, and I am so glad they were answered. Again, WELCOME BACK!!

Bunny_Hotcakes 9 years, 6 months ago

@volunteer I wondered the same thing. I'm not blaming him at all, but his case illustrates rather effectively how bad of an idea it is to work out when you're sick. Feeling run down? Give it a day before you try to work out again. Exercising with the flu can do permanent damage or even kill you. Exercise may have exacerbated his decline.

gr 9 years, 6 months ago

"I don't think he was blaming anyone."I think he was according to the way he said it."80% of those who have received the flu shot do not get the flu when exposed."If you were answering my question of, how is the effectiveness determined, I fail to see how that answers it. Perhaps you were attempting to answer some other question of, what does 80% effectiveness mean. In which case, you answered partially. What about those who did not get the vaccine? How many of them would get sick? If 100%, then it may mean something. But, that's not true. How many do get sick who haven't been vaccinated - 20%? If so, the flu vaccine would be 100% ineffective. Now do you see that your answer does not address the question?" what is the big deal?"Sigh.... Check out the VAERS database and decide if the risk is worth "what is the big deal?". the following doesn't list the ingredients to the flu vaccine, check out some of the others. If you think you are a vegetarian, better not get the Chicken Pox vaccine. Some one else's lung cells, Guinea pig cells, Beef heart serum: how about monkeypox or who knows what risk by injecting monkey cells through the polio vaccine. Or just plain mercury and aluminum.none2, be sure to look at the adverse reactions there , too."Carcinogenic, mutagenic potential or fertility impairment, developmental malformation (animal reproduction studies), effects on pregnant woman, fetus, or transmission of toxins to human breast milk" And you ask, what is the big deal?!!!And I think paralysis as shown on CBC is another big deal. Funny, Guillain-Barre Syndrome is a common denominator of vaccines on the above link."he is not expected to make a full recovery, "versus being sick for a few days at some percent chance that no one has listed being any different from not getting vaccinated.Hmmm..... choices, choices.

gr 9 years, 6 months ago

Kansas, right before where you quoted me, I said, "And I think paralysis as shown on CBC is another big deal."mustbhiorlo listed it."One of the earliest stories we usually hear of is how (blah blah blah)"We also hear of people who get chicken pox don't get it again either, but that doesn't mean chicken pox vaccines work or should be recommended."but it would be a joke to deny that a good chunk of our good health is due to vaccinations"Do you know what a "confounding variable" means? "but they don't change the fact that vaccinations and medications have saved lives much more than they have caused death or disability."You have not and cannot back that up."Wasn't the Spanish Flu of 1918 spread primarily by vaccinations?"Polio can be: I've also heard that they hardly ever get the right strain. If not many get sick, then they must have got it right, but if many get sick, well, they'll try again next year. Reminds you of the none2 mentality.I'm still waiting for someone to show how effectiveness of vaccines are determined. You'd think will all these supporters, someone would just come out and say it. Since they haven't would that be a confounding variable of either effectiveness cannot be determined or vaccines aren't effective or would it be the truth?I would think that if vaccines were effective, it would be easy to defend rather than spouting a bunch of emotional hype and avoiding factual support.

mom_of_three 9 years, 6 months ago

My three kids went through Prairie Park, and were all helped at one point by Mr. Barnhart, and adore him to this day. We were all very anxious for him when we found out he was sick, but are so thrilled he is recovering so well. What a great person he is!I wonder how much his physical condition prior to getting ill contributed to his recovery?

Sharon Aikins 9 years, 6 months ago

I don't think he was blaming anyone. Typhoid Mary was what was known as a "healthy carrier" of typhoid. She caused typhoid outbreaks without even being aware of it or becoming ill herself. Instead of criticizing Mr. Barnhart for a comment meaning he caught it from who knows where, why not be happy for the fact that he recovered? I forgot to get my shot one year. I didn't get influenza but I could have. Last year I had my shot and still had influenza, a mild case. I don't know where I got it, so I could jokingly say I got it from Typhoid Mary. Congratulations Mr. Barnhart on your recovery. I'm sure there are still things that are hard for you but you haven't given up and you impact a lot of lives in a positive way.

sarahsmilehawk 9 years, 6 months ago

I remember Mr. Barnhart from my Prairie Park days, and I'm glad he got better.But I still won't be getting a flu shot. I've never had one, and I've never had the flu. I don't know... I just don't trust them.

volunteer 9 years, 6 months ago

One wonders if Mr. Barnhart would have done better to go to bed after feeling awful in church rather than going for a jog.

appleaday 9 years, 6 months ago

And those of you who choose not to get the flu shot please stay home when you develop an upper respiratory illness which may be influenza (you won't know unless you're tested) so that someone's 6 month old infant doesn't get really ill. Some grandma's can't get the vaccine because of other conditions. And flu vaccines are cheap.

kansasrose 9 years, 6 months ago

Good lord! What an ordeal for Mr. Barnhart! What a horrible loss this would have been for Lawrence! He was a wonderful counselor when my son was a little guy going to Prairie Park. Now my son is in college. I'm scheduling my flu shots for myself, daughter and father. I'm so glad you are ok, Mr. Barnhart!

coolmom 9 years, 6 months ago

my 16 year old son got the flu and then pnumonia. he spent 22 days in intensive care, his kidneys failed and he was intubated and had chest tubes in his lungs. he had recieved a flu shot and that fact may have helped to save his life according to doctors at the hospital. he says when he was so out of it and in and out fighting the tube he saw an winged being outside his window. when he told me that later the hair rose on the back of my neck. he has down syndrome and while very high functioning he couldnt have made that up. now he gets every shot known to man as do we all.

webmocker 9 years, 6 months ago

"95% of the population does not need a flu shot. The very young, the very old, and those with compromised immune systems need them. The rest need to just take vitamins, drink plenty of fluids, and be willing to sweat it out."Generally true, unless the Spanish flu comes back for a visit: From Wikipedia: the conclusions of this research is that the virus kills via a cytokine storm, which explains its unusually severe nature and the unusual age profile of its victims (the virus caused an overreaction of the body's immune system-the strong immune systems of young adults ravaged the body, while the weaker immune systems of children and middle-aged adults caused fewer deaths).Yours in fear mongering. :-)

Christine Anderson 9 years, 6 months ago

I can't describe how happy and relieved I am that Mr. Barnhardt recovered and is back at Prairie Park. He is so very kind to my young fellas there, and he has an excellent rapport with the kids! My youngest son in particular was rather worried about him last year.My personal story with the issue of flu shots proves Mr. Barnhardt's point. The year before last, both my boys got the shots, and had significantly fewer "sick days" due to upper respiratory infections. Last year, I forgot, and didn't get one myself, either. My sons had bouts of influenza, (as confirmed by nasal swab), and I myself had pnuemonia for the first time in my life. It wasn't fun.

Nikki May 9 years, 6 months ago

I'm glad Mr. Barnhart is back. Both my prairie park kids are too. When he's gone now even for a day, they are looking for him.

Matt Schwartz 9 years, 6 months ago

i hope the temper tantrum bear gets the flu and more, and also uninformed, take care of your hemmorhoids

Mkh 9 years, 6 months ago

Jason,I heard the exact same thing from a former employee of the CDC.

KansasPerson 9 years, 6 months ago

gr said:" 'he is not expected to make a full recovery, 'versus being sick for a few days at some percent chance that no one has listed being any different from not getting vaccinated.Hmmm:.. choices, choices."Please help me out! Most of the quotes in your post seem to be from prior posts, but this one (about the full recovery) I can't find anywhere. I can't figure out what you're referring to. Also I can't understand the statement after the quote. He was a lot worse off than "being sick for a few days" if you're referring to the man in the article. Please explain?

Jason Bailey 9 years, 6 months ago

I'll never forget when I used to work in the adult ICU at KU Med and the flu shots were being "marketed" to the workers of the hospital. One of the thoracic surgeons, one of the best I've ever worked with, was making rounds and overhead the nurses' conversation about the shot. What he said has always stuck with me:"That is the biggest pile of dung I've ever heard. The CDC is simply guessing which strains of flu will be prevalent this year and include those strains in the vaccine. There are 18 strains in the shot out of thousands that could become widespread. Your chances of being inoculated against the right virus are slim to none. Any benefit, which is like playing the lottery, is far outweighed by the risks."That's all I needed and I've never had a flu shot in my life.

gr 9 years, 6 months ago

And avoidance is the word.The FDA and others couldn't be wrong, could they?

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