ZACHARY – Widely known former Louisiana and Mississippi high school football Coach Brian Spillman, 39, of Zachary, suffers from coronary artery disease and is in dire need of a heart transplant.
Genetics have surely played their part in Spillman’s heart troubles - his mother and brother have suffered from heart disease - but diabetes is also a contributing factor. He has been a diabetic since age 8.
The heart condition he suffers from now develops when the coronary arteries - the major blood vessels that supply your heart with blood, oxygen and nutrients - become damaged or diseased.
The father of two boys, Slade, 15, and TJ, 10, Spillman is known to most as Coach Spillman, having coached for the past 16 years at several schools in both Mississippi and Louisiana.
“Before Brian was forced to quit working, he taught at Baker High and was coaching football at Parkview Baptist in Baton Rouge before he had to stop mid-season,” said Amy Spillman, Brian’s wife of 17 years. “He’s been blessed to have won several state championship rings while coaching, but it’s been hard for him to let go...he loves all his students and athletes very much.”
Amy said since January, her husband’s condition has gotten slightly worse. In September, Brian suffered a heart attack, prompting the family to opt for a transplant.
Spillman was under the care of Dr. Charles Thompson, with Cardiovascular Institute of the South (CIS) in Zachary, but has been referred to an Ochsner transplant team in New Orleans.
“He’s not on the transplant waiting list just yet,” said Amy. “But we did receive a call just before Thanksgiving saying he’s been approved to start the process. We are so excited he’s made it this far and is now on the list. He’s been seeing the transplant team since January, and they’ve tried many things.”
Family friend Diana Logue said the Ochsner team informed the Spillmans that to help battle medical and travel expenses, they should try fundraising options. “They are wonderful people, but they are struggling financially with medical bills,” said Logue.
Originally from Gloster, Miss., the Spillmans have lived in Zachary for the past eight years. They attend Fellowship Church and both boys attend Zachary schools.
“God has blessed us with an awesome family, group of friends and loving church family. They have been by our sides through this difficult journey,” said Amy. “We appreciate everyone keeping us in your prayers. We also thank you for helping us get the word out about Brian.”
To help the Spillmans with medical expenses, a Facebook page has been set up named ‘Brian Spillman - A Heart for Coach Spillman.’ The page documents Spillman’s progress and journey towards finding a heart transplant.
An account also has been set up at Trustmark Bank in Liberty, Miss., as well as at Chase Bank locations in Baton Rouge and Zachary.