LaSher’s Story, a 25 News Now Extra

Hear from LaSher Bartay, a Victoria native who found out that she had a rare heart defect while in surgery for breast cancer.

VICTORIA, Texas – On average, the human heart beats about 115,000 times a day, and LaSher Bartay’s heart was no different, or so she thought. LaSher was born with a serious congenital heart defect, and for the first 42 years of her life, there was no indication that anything was wrong with her.

“I was a healthy 42-year-old female. Exercised daily, cycled on the highway, and lifted weights in the gym, and was considered healthy,” says LaSher.

LaSher’s heart defect was found by mere chance too, at the beginning of 2018 LaSher was diagnosed with breast cancer. While in surgery for her double mastectomy LaSher would go into cardiac arrest for over an hour.

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LaSher Bartay lived an active and healthy lifestyle, so finding out she had a congenital heart defect was unexpected news to her.

“Just so happened that the heart team was right across the hall and they came in and performed CPR for an hour and 27 minutes,” says LaSher.

It was then that doctors learned that LaSher was lucky to even had made it this far in life.

“We ended up finding out that I was born with a congenital heart defect, and they said I shouldn’t have made it past my teenage years,” says LaSher.

LaSher’s heart defect is usually detected in a person’s teenage years or for women during childbirth. LaSher’s only child was delivered via c-section, so the heart defect never showed up.

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LaSher with her only child. LaSher’s heart defect is usually detected during childbirth, but LaSher had a C-section delivery so her heart issue remained undetected.

What was supposed to be a 4-day hospital stay turned into a 14-month stay, with LaSher now having to deal with a myriad of new health issues.

While in cardiac arrest LaSher’s body went into what’s called compartment syndrome, which is where the blood ends up settling in the lower parts of her body due to the lack of blood flow. Because of this LaSher ended up having to have both of her feet amputated. It would be determined that LaSher would need a heart transplant, but first would have to recover from the numerous surgeries that she would have to undergo.

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LaSher would develop compartment syndrome while she was in cardiac arrest, this would lead to both her feet being amputated and she had to re-learn how to walk, now with prosthetic feet.

“Yes there were days that were painful, many a days that were painful, in different ways, but fortunately I was at the right place at the right time,” says LaSher.

Time was running out for LaSher, and if she wasn’t able to get a heart in time she may not be leaving the hospital alive. But LaSher says she had to trust God’s timing.

“I was pretty bad that last week and I had a physician come to my bedside. It was probably 9’oclock at night and he came by himself and he said ‘Well young lady, we have a heart for you,” says LaSher.

All that LaSher knew at the time about her organ donor was that he was a young man in his 20’s, and being just a day before Mother’s day, LaSher couldn’t help but think of her donor’s mother.

“I couldn’t help but think of his mom, from the minute that I was told I was getting his heart. Even when I woke up from surgery she was still on my mind,” says LaSher.

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LaSher with her organ donors, Brandon, parents.

LaSher’s heart transplant surgery was a success and could finally return home to recover but knew she now had a special bond with her organ donor’s family, saying that she asked Brandon, her organ donor’s dad if he’d accept her as his daughter.

“If you’ll accept me as your daughter now to continue on from here I’d love that and he said most definitely, so we’re pretty close. I lost my dad 7 years ago, and that’s hard to lose a parent but I can’t even imagine what it’s like losing your child,” says LaSher.

LaSher has shared her story with the American Heart Association and continues to do so. In 2013 Texas passed a law that requires screenings for critical congenital heart defects for every infant born in a birthing facility to catch these defects at a very early age.

February is Heart Month so LaSher will also be attending the 4th annual Crossroads Heart & Stroke Walk taking place at the Victoria College and UHV Campus. The walk will be Saturday, February 5, and brings awareness to the risks that heart disease brings.

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LaSher now shares her story with the American Heart Association and will be participating in the Crossroads Heart & Stroke Walk to bring awareness to heart diseases.

Walking away from this experience LaSher leaves with not only a new heart but a renewed look on life.

“We’re not here to judge anybody, here on Earth for things that they’ve had to go through or trials and tribulations, so I feel like I, when I meet somebody new, and find out what their story is, it makes me appreciate them, that’s for sure, that’s for sure,” says LaSher.