Brian’s Story

Heart Transplant Recipient Competes in Swimming and Triathlons

Brian Suffers with Myocarditis for Decades Before Receiving a Heart Transplant

Brian Suffers with Myocarditis for Decades Before Receiving a Heart Transplant
Brian Barndt

Brian Barndt, a Wake Forest, North Carolina resident and Total Immersion Swimming certified coach, knows something about determination. He suffered from heart disease for nearly two decades before receiving a heart transplant in 2005.

As a student swimmer and polo player at UNC-Wilmington in 1990, Brian contracted a virus that damaged his heart. The doctors were able to control his myocarditis with medication, but he knew a heart transplant was in his future. My body did well 10 years after the virus, but in 2000, I started to decline.

First, he had a defibrillator implanted in his chest, a device designed to deliver a shock to his heart if a life-threatening arrhythmia occurred. The once athlete water polo player could not even swim the length of the pool.

He fought his fear of transplant surgery, and got in line for a new heart. Six weeks after the surgery he was back in the pool. After receiving new life through the transplant, Brian has returned to swimming with a passion!

Brian has competed in transplant athletics, winning seven gold medals at the 2006 and 2008 U.S. Transplant Games as a member of Team NC, and three silvers and one bronze medal at the 2009 World Transplant Games in Australia.

At the Transplant Games in 2012, Brian won 8 more medals, 5 gold 2 silver 1 bronze. So, at the U.S. Transplant Games total, from 2006, 2008 & 2012, he has won 16 medals, 12 of them being gold! If you add in the World Games with 4 medals, that makes a grand total of 20 medals that Brian has won overall.

Brian also competes in triathlons, and was member of the first all-heart transplant relay team to complete an Iron Distance triathlon race. The three-man Tin Men relay team, whose name is loosely based on the Tin Man character from the Wizard of Oz who just wanted a heart, have received their hearts and now want to use them. Their motto: Three Hearts, Two Lungs, One Goal.

Brian is also the first heart transplant recipient to swim in the annual Escape from Alcatraz.