Kenneth Horsey was digging into a pile of baby back ribs with his family after church. It was Easter Sunday 2018 and Kenneth had much to look forward to in the coming months. open heart surgery
Soon, Kenneth would be headed to his senior prom and graduation from Seminole High School in Sanford, Florida. Then he’d move to Lexington, Kentucky, to attend the University of Kentucky on a full football scholarship.
At 6-foot-3 and 335 pounds, the offensive lineman could put away plenty of ribs. But during the meal, he felt a searing pain in his side.
Maybe he’d eaten too fast, he thought. He excused himself from the table and went to the bathroom. The pain became excruciating. He began to vomit and felt feverish. His vision blurred. The only thing he could think to do was climb into the bathtub.
He was able to yell to his parents, who came running. Kenneth was so hot to the touch that his father sprayed him with water from the shower. His mother called 911.
At the hospital, doctors ordered a battery of tests and scans.
The following day, Kenneth was diagnosed with endocarditis, an infection on a heart valve caused by bacteria. The bacteria produce what is known as vegetation. Pieces of vegetation can break off and travel in the body. In Kenneth’s case, a piece went to his kidney; that’s what caused the shooting pain.
One of the doctors to first treat Kenneth told his parents that he would likely never play football again.
“My heart just dropped,” Shari Horsey, Kenneth’s mother says. “How do you tell your 18-year-old that was just accepted to a college team that he’s not going to be able to play football again?”
Soon after, however, a surgeon told them the opposite.
Because the heart muscle wasn’t damaged, Kenneth could keep playing. But first, the surgeon said,