Diver Returns To Newport Aquarium After Heart Transplant

Jun 20, 2018

Bruno Lanman is grateful to be swimming with the sharks again. Lanman, who created the Newport Aquarium's dive program 20 years ago, thought his diving days were over following a heart failure diagnosis in 2003.

"The doctors said in 2006 'You'll never dive again,' " Lanman says after climbing out of the aquarium's shark tank following his triumphant return to the water.

Bruno Lanman emerges from the shark tank after using a special mask to give an underwater presentation to visitors and members of his care teams.
Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Lanman got a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) at Cincinnati's Christ Hospital in 2015 to help pump blood through his body. The following year he underwent heart transplant surgery at UK Medical Center in Lexington, Ky.

Lanman says diving feels "like home." He loves the peacefulness and silence of being underwater. He began diving in 1967 when he was in the Navy.

Though he's never met his heart donor's family, tears well in his eyes when he speaks about them.

"I made the pledge when I got [the heart] that I would never dishonor my donor," he says. "I feel like they gave me a new lease on life."

He says he tries to "pay it forward" by mentoring other patients at Christ and UK.

He's also planning a dive vacation to the Dutch Caribbean where he says there's a reef named for him.

Christ Hospital's Bo McMillan offers a fist bump to celebrate Lanman's return to diving while the two sit in a tank of heated water to warm up after diving with the sharks.
Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU