CARMEL, Ind. — A Carmel man will test out a pair of new lungs this weekend, months after a double lung transplant and bypass surgery. Saturday, he will run a 5K during the Carmel Marathon Weekend.
“I consider myself extremely fortunate,” Michael Kaster said.
Michael was the guy in his family who never got sick. Then, the 60-year-old caught COVID after a family vacation in July and nearly died.
“They were like, ‘Mike we’ve really just got to put you on a ventilator now,'” Michael recalled. “I said ‘okay,’ and that’s basically the last thing I remember.”
Mike and his wife Joan were close to getting their vaccines. They say, Joan, a cancer survivor, was waiting on the go-ahead from her doctor.
“Our reason was the health reason,” Michael said.
The day before their wedding anniversary, doctors put Mike on machines to keep him alive. He was transferred to Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center for a double lung transplant and bypass surgery.
“The amount of folks we have seen be that sick and make it through to transplant are unfortunately in the minority so people who get really sick like that a lot of them don’t even make it to transplant,” Michael said.
Merely months later, he is working out at Orangetheory Fitness, completing the grueling DriTri which is a 2,000 meter row, 300 bodyweight reps and a 5K as fast as you can.
“My body was done,” Michael said. “But my mind was like, ‘I’ve got to do this for me, I’ve got to finish.'”
Now the couple is forging ahead as they have through every step of their health journey.
“I wasn’t going to go there,” Joan said after being asked if she thought she would lose him. “That was just not, that’s not me. No, he’s going to be okay. He said he was going to be okay, he’s going to be okay. This is not going to be an easy road but we’ll get there. We’re going to get there, so I never was doubtful or anything like that. It was like, ‘okay what’s the next step? What do we have to do?'”
Mike and Joan are both fully vaccinated now. They say they encourage people to stay vigilant, wash your hands and stay home if they’re sick.