What to Know
- Mike Barker received a liver transplant seven months ago.
- Barker promised that every race he ran in the future, he would be thinking of his donor family.
- To find out how to become an organ donor visit donatelife.net
In less than a year, an Irving man will go from receiving a liver transplant to running the Cowtown marathon.
Mike Barker would be what many consider a running machine.
He’s run not only the Cowtown before, but several other half and full marathons in Portland, Big Sur, Vancouver, Quebec, and more.
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However, what Barker didn’t know at the time was that all of these races were preparing him for one of the biggest challenges he would face.
“You get to mile 18-20 and your body says I’m done, and it’s a matter of having the mental strength to push your body past where it can go,” said Barker.
A couple years ago, an autoimmune issue started causing serious problems with Barker’s liver.
It became so serious that Barker was placed on a transplant list.
In July, he finally got the news that a liver was available for him.
“I was really shocked, because I wasn’t expecting it. I was actually writing my bucket list,” he said.
Barker still doesn’t know who gave him the liver… only that it was from a 17-year-old who recently passed away.
While he was home recovering, he wrote the family of the donor a six page handwritten letter.
“We wanted to pour a lot of love on that family, from people they had given an unimaginable gift. A priceless gift,” he said.
Barker also promised them that every race he ran in the future, he would be thinking of them.
That includes the upcoming Cowtown.
“In a lot of ways it’s felt like I started my life over. It’s almost like my first race,” said Barker.
Barker and his wife will run the race together wearing blue shirts that honor the donor.
“The main thing is enjoying the run, running with the shirts, and getting the word out that donating life is important… that people donating organs makes a difference in so many people’s lives,” he said.
Barker said he will run both the 5k and half-marathon at the Cowtown.