Barron “Coach Bear” Honea hadn’t heard of pulmonary hypertension when his cousin Josh White died of PH complications shortly after his 2020 diagnosis. However, the former basketball coach had been experiencing PH symptoms for nine years and didn’t connect them to his cousin’s disease.

Barron’s journey was significantly different than his cousin’s experience. After Barron tested negative for COVID-19 more than 30 times, his sister encouraged him to see a cardiologist. The cardiologist ordered a cardiac catheterization, but Barron was so breathless on the day of the procedure that it couldn’t be completed. The cardiologist referred Barron to Houston Methodist, a Pulmonary Hypertension Association-accredited PH Care Center.

In 2021, Sandeep Sahay, MD, diagnosed Honea with pulmonary arterial hypertension. Dr. Sahay started Barron on a pump and a few different medications, including Veletri, Adempas, and Opsumit. Dr. Sahay also pointed Barron to PHA.

After Dr. Sahay told Barron and his wife Darla about PHA, they started researching PH and finding resources on PHA’s website. The couple also became involved in community activities. In the family’s mission to give back, Barron participated in PHA’s first Houston O2breathe Walk in January.

Since then, Barron is doing well on his treatment and no longer needs a pump. He shares his story for PHA’ fall fundraising campaign, noting the importance of PHA-accredited care centers like Houston Medical. He attributes his success and management of PH to Sahay and Houston Methodist doctors, nurses and staff.

“I would have never, ever seen Dr. Sahay if it hadn’t been for this disease,” Barron says.

Barron’s full story will be featured in the fall issue of Pathlight, PHA’s quarterly member magazine.

Support PHA’s efforts to accredit more PH Care Centers and more people with PH get the care they need. Donate now.

Coach Bear and family