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Success Stories

The Denver Health Level I Trauma Center cares for more than 3,000 of the region’s most severely injured patients each year and here are a few of their stories of success.

TV Show Host Tred Barta Suffers a Stroke in his Spinal Cord

Tred Barta - Photo courtesy Danny Kirsic Images

In May 2009, Tred Barta, passionate outdoorsman and the host of the outdoor TV show “The Best and Worst of Tred Barta,” suffered an injury that forever changed his life.

It was an ordinary week. Barta was preparing for a black bear hunting trip in the Ketchikan. He and his wife went for a horseback ride and upon their return he began to feel a little sore. It wasn’t until the next morning, when Barta woke up with a 30 percent to 40 percent loss of movement in his left leg, that he began to worry.

Knowing he was about to embark on a hunting expedition, he decided to visit a clinic in Vail. There, they did X-rays and scans and determined he was suffering from a pinched nerve in his lower lumbar and referred him to a kinesiologist in Glenwood Springs to get a series of five cortisone shots. The shots made him feel better and he thought he was in the clear – until the next day when he woke up with 90 percent loss of movement his left leg.

Panicked, Barta began driving to the kinesilogist’s office when he began to experience excruciating pain in his bowel. Unable to drive, he turned his car sideways on I-70 until a Colorado State Trooper came to his aid.

An ambulance rushed Barta to Vail Valley Medical Center, where they began to evaluate the situation. To his horror, Barta suddenly lost sensation in both legs during the examination.

Barta was put into an ambulance and rushed to Denver Health Medical Center.

“The doctors in Vail told me the best place for me to get the expert care needed to figure out what was going on was Denver Health,” said Barta.

By the time Barta arrived in Denver he was completely numb below the waist. Mike Earnest, M.D., a retired Denver Health neurologist who happened to be helping out as an attending physician that fateful Sunday afternoon, met Barta upon his arrival at Denver Health. After numerous examinations, consultations and tests it was determined that Barta suffered a stroke in his spinal cord.

“I could be one of the luckiest men alive,” said Barta. “I had my stroke on a day when one of the best, most experienced neurologists came back to the hospital from retirement to help out.”

Miraculously, Dr. Earnest was able to quickly pinpoint the problem and reduce the spread of the paralysis, which enabled Barta to immediately begin the rehabilitation process.

Barta has since returned to his ranch in Eagle, and continues to host “The Best and Worst of Tred Barta,” which is seen by more than 41 million viewers on the Versus channel.

“Today, I am learning how to do things without the use of my legs. I am hunting, fishing, horseback riding, and still producing my TV show,” said Barta. “I am grateful that I met Dr. Earnest, and thankful to him and all the people at Denver Health who helped me in my time of need.”

More Great Trauma Saves

Read our recent edition of "Great Saves."

Special Publication: Denver Health Celebrates 150 Years!

Cover of the 150th Annual Report

Did you know that in 1976, Dr. Ben Eiseman and Dr. Ernest E. “Gene” Moore formalized the first trauma/surgery service in the Rocky Mountain Region? Read more on page 26 of this publication!