Inspiring Stories From The Transplant Games

Posted August 2, 2012 in News Category

In an hour at the 2012 Transplant Games of America, countless inspiring stories could be found. With thousands of stories to share, we can’t possibly tell all of them over four days. But here are three Team Transplant St. Louis found particularly inspiring.

troyTwo years to the date after his kidney transplant, Team Ohio’s Troy Lewis walked in the opening ceremonies of the Transplant Games of America in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

His against-all-odds journey was bumpy, but his transplant also saved his brother’s life.

Troy was in Stage 5 renal failure in 2010; he waited six months for a kidney and spent 12 weeks on dialysis. Meanwhile, Troy’s four brothers checked to see if they could help their brother. “None were a match,” Troy said. “We went to our church, and we had so many people coming forward to get tested. At one point, we found a match, or what we thought was a match, a 26-year-old man from my church, about 6-foot-4, 210 pounds. I was excited.”

Troy was three days from surgery when the doctor canceled the surgery. The potential donor had the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), of which 95% of Americans have had. Troy had not contracted EBV, therefore could not receive the kidney. “Suddenly,” Troy said. “I had a one and 400 chance of finding a suitable kidney.”

Troy researched Alliance for Paired Donation (APD) in Toledo University Medical College. “If you have a loved one that will give a kidney, you can receive a kidney from the bank,” Troy said. “The problem was, there were only 300 kidneys in the bank, and my odds were one in 400.”

APD had a match.

In Colorado Springs, Colorado, a man by the name of Jay Julian had recently watched Seven Pounds, the 2008 film featuring Will Smith and a story of transplantation. “He got done watching that movie,” Troy said, “looked over to his wife, and said, ‘I think I’m supposed to give my kidney to somebody.’”

Jay’s kidney was a match for Troy. On July 28, Troy received Jay’s kidney. Two days later, Troy’s brother, Tony, went into surgery to donate a kidney for a person in Florida. There were complications. “This three-hour surgery turned into a 10 hours,” Troy said. “It nearly cost him his life.”

Tony had a cyst over one of his kidneys. Behind the cyst was an aneurysm. It burst as surgery began, and Tony crashed on the table. Doctors were able to revive him, stabilize him, recover the kidney and place it in the Floridian.

A construction worker in Ohio, Troy wrote a book about his journey. For more information, visit his Facebook page.

Remember All Officers

jessJess Chairez, right, is a donor dad. He attends each Transplant Games because the athletes and living donors are like a second family to him.

Throughout the four-day event, Jess tells his son’s story: how Officer Joseph Chairez wanted to be an organ donor, and as a 24-year-old Sacramento, Calif. police officer, suffered a fatal aneurysm in 2000. He saved four lives through organ donation.

Jess has handed out various pins remembering his son with “SAC PD” and his badge number “238” since 2000.

As part of the Games, Jess shows large quilts with police badges from various departments nationwide. He continues to use the opportunity to remember all officers.

Walking with Michelle

imgp4175-sj9imgp4177Team St. Louis was lined up before the Opening Ceremonies when we noticed the t-shirt to the right. We wanted to know more about Michelle.

We learned Michelle tragically passed away nine months ago. Her parents, John and Peggy (pictured on the left and right) attended the Games with one of her recipients, Eric.

Eric received Michelle’s lungs, and nine months after the transplant, ran in the 5K run/walk the morning of the Opening Ceremonies.


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