Feature

Matters of the Heart: Newlyweds Tom and Velma Barnes have seen both highlights and challenges in 2019

Tom and Velma Barnes at home.

By Twylla Crosby
The year 2019 was an exciting one for former Newman Grove grocery store owner, Tom Barnes.
He married Velma Mielak, Albion, on June 22, 2019 and they left for a family reunion in Wichita, KS.
The wedding and the trip were planned events; spending the rest of their honeymoon at Bryan East  and Bryan West hospitals in Lincoln was not.
Tom and Velma were aware that Tom had cardiac problems and had a defibrillator but were shocked to find the left side of his heart had deteriorated.
Following the Wichita trip, Tom mowed the grass at his home near Newman Grove on a very hot summer day. He put the mower away just as Velma came to check on him. She was very concerned by how much he was perspiring.
After he showered, they went into Newman Grove and ate supper and Velma returned to Albion.
“I just got in the house and felt bad,’’ Tom said. He was on the bed with his phone beside him and suddenly “there was a boom and I thought I saw fire.”
His defibrillator had acted to jolt his heart back to a normal rhythm but Tom felt weak and found it difficult to talk when he called the rescue unit.
Between his house and the Boone County Health Center his defibrillator jolted the heart 11 more times.
Tom was transferred to Bryan East and after testing, the doctors told him that his heart valves were okay, he didn’t have cancer or diabetes and his kidneys were good however ‘’his heart was very enlarged and stretched thin,’’ Velma said.
“They said I would be a candidate for the machine, the Heart Mate 3, the newest thing they have,’’ Tom said.
Heart transplant patients must be under age 70, Tom was 76 and was not eligible.

Read the full story in the Jan. 15 Albion News print and e editions.