LEWIS, Kan. (KWCH) An Edwards County family knows just how fragile the heart can be and how love from the community keeps it pumping strong.
Heart transplant recipient Corey Kliewer said, "I haven't slowed down since. I haven't felt this good in 30 years."
It's been a good year for Corey Kliewer after years that included struggles.
"I’m a farm kid, and so is my sister. We grew up on the farm. We work every day," said Kliewer. "Yeah. So you can’t do what you like to anymore, and that was the hardest thing. Just not being able to do what you want to do. I’m not the type of person that you can tell no very easy, so when I have a condition and can’t do anything. That was really hard. I couldn’t be outside."
It was in February when he got a long-awaited heart transplant.
"It’s unbelievable to feel that way and have energy and not be short of breath and not be incapable of doing what you want to do anymore," said Kliewer.
But the quest for a heart isn't over for Kliewer, not for himself this time but for his sister, Christina Queckboerner.
"I was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy in December 2005," Kliewer said. "Christina was diagnosed with her condition six months later. So pretty much, what happens to me, has been happening to her six months later."
The condition started as an infection in the heart and caused it to work harder to pump blood.
The heart starts to stretch out and grow weaker.
"My heart size was about three times what a normal person would be," said Kliewer.
This disease is one this family has faced far too many times.
"We lost my day five years ago to pretty much the same thing. That’s been really hard on all of us," said Christina's younger sister Kelsey Holguin. "It has been really hard. I have three kids of my own, so I’m just thinking in the back of my head, am I the next sibling to contract this disorder."
While this family is a support system for each other, their community of Lewis has been showing small-town pride by continuous support.
Sunday, Dec. 1, Christina's family held a benefit on their quest to get Christina a new heart.
"She just needs a little bit of a boost. A little morale booster, a little bit of help for day to day activities," said Holguin.
However, the benefit was absent one guest. Christina is recovering in a Kansas City Hospital after having a pump placed in her heart in late November.
Holguin said, "She was actually walking around a couple of times around the heart floor she was one. They’re hoping she’ll be home in the next ten days."
Kliewer says the pump is just a way to keep Christina's heart going long while they wait and hope a new heart comes soon.
"Put a small pump at the bottom of your left ventricle, and they run a tube up that up into your aorta, which exchanges all the blood for you. You have a driveline that comes out of your abdomen that goes into a controller, and you’re battery powered. You basically have to be plugged into those batteries or an outlet in the wall pretty much 24/7," said Kliewer.
The family is also accepting donations at Farmers Bank and Trust. An account has been set up called Christina's Heart Quest.
A Facebook page has also been set up.