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Karl Bielser returns to the court in Arlington
Coming back from an injury is a part of athletics that, while unpleasant, is a rite of passage.
Most athletes go through some occasional bumps and bruises, maybe a sprain or a tear. But Karl Bielser has come back from much more, returning to play basketball after having a heart transplant. Less than a year ago Bielser was in an operating room at Seattle Childrens Hospital, undergoing one of the most serious surgical procedures imaginable. He came through and his recovery has been both remarkable and inspirational. After two years away from sports, Bielser made a triumphant return to the hardwood.
The two-year absence from the court could have kept Bielser down permanently, but he chose to turn out for the eighth-grade team this year, winning a spot on the varsity basketball team at Haller Middle School.
In his first game against Mt. Vernon Middle School Bielser knocked down a 3-pointer and a free throw to finish with four points. On Feb. 21 Haller took on Oak Harbor Middle School in Arlington. Bielser got out and ran the floor, looking healthy and pleased to be back. He smiled, slapped hands with his teammates and looked every bit the healthy young man that one might expect.
It wasnt always so easy. Bielser went into surgery on St. Patricks Day, March 16, 2007. The Childrens Hospital of Seattle found a heart match for him early that morning and informed the family that Karls window of opportunity would be right away. By 8 p.m. that night Bielser was under the knife while his family waited anxiously for the results.
What we went through, said Karls father John, I didnt care if he ever played again. And then on Valentines Day of this year, the day of his first game in two years, I asked him how he felt. He said he was, just ready to be back. Its an amazing feeling to see him back out there on the court.
A collection of family members came out to Karls game against Oak Harbor, including grandparents and aunts and uncles. Karls return has meant a lot to the community as well.
There was a community of thoughts and prayers from all over, said John Bielser. We had a set of great doctors, nurses and staff at the hospital to help guide him through. We want to express our gratitude to the Arlington community, they held us together through everything.
It is the greatest feeling, said Julie Bielser, Karls mother. Karl had to lay low for a year when he first got sick. We could not figure out what was wrong, why he was feeling crummy. Now hes a kid again.
As for Karl, he seems unfazed by his miraculous recovery and return to sports.
I feel alright, he said following the Oak Harbor game. The future looks good.
His parents and the Arlington community would certainly agree with that.