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Life's incredible for Brent and Dan
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This time last year, we wrote about Brent Tiede, a 1991 Great Bend High School graduate who had just received a new heart. The successful transplant was done at St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City, Mo.

Tiede knew for years he would eventually need a heart transplant. In 1995, he was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, a condition in which the heart beats rapidly because of abnormal, extra electrical pathways between its upper and lower chambers.

When he was 38 years old, his name went on a waiting list for "Brent’s Change of Heart."

Toward the end of December in 2010, St. Luke’s called the Tiede home in Maize at 4:39 p.m. on a Sunday.

It’s about a three and a half hour drive, but he wasted no time and checked in around 8 that evening.

He went into surgery Monday morning, and before the week was out we were exchanging e-mails. He said he felt "great."

One year later, Tiede, 39, says his new heart is "still functioning well."

He posted this holiday message on Facebook, "Thank God for the blessings; thank you family and friends for the support. Thank (the donor and his family) for giving me life. Organ donors and their families are truly our heros, and I’m so grateful and privileged to have such a great heart."

A year ago, he was looking forward to being able to take longer walks without getting winded, or maybe tossing a football with his kids.

"I can do that now," he said. "I definitely have a better quality of life."

The process of recovery is lengthy, but the list of medications he has to take is getting shorter.

Although he has not yet been able to return to full-time work, Tiede said he has been lifting some weights and resuming normal activity.

Another former Great Bend resident who is thankful for life is Daniel Hedlund, a 2004 graduate of Great Bend High School.

He moved to Utah after high school, and in 2007 — three weeks after getting married — he was diagnosed with metastatic osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer. When the cancer was at Stage 4, doctors gave him a 30 percent chance of living, and said he would probably lose a leg. He kept his leg, and his life.

After beating those odds, Hedlund entered an online contest called "In Search of Incredible." The sponsors, technology companies ASUS and Intel, were looking for compelling stories around the globe.

"Feel sorry for cancer ’cause I just kicked it’s butt," Hedlund wrote. "Or so I think. I’m not really sure. That’s my incredible story. I live my life not knowing what the future holds. I guess we all do to an extent, but I guess you could say that I live my life with a bit more uncertainty than the average Joe. I live my life three months at a time. That’s how often I go back in for scans to see if my bone cancer has returned. It has twice. But here I sit … still alive, for whatever reason."

This month Hedlund was chosen the grand prize winner of "In Search of Incredible."

He will have an opportunity to have his story made into a short film with his favorite musician, Jason Mraz, to be screened at the Sundance Film Festival.

Whatever the future holds for these two, they know the gift of life is incredible.


(Susan Thacker is a reporter for the Great Bend Tribune. Send her e-mail at