I’ve been around the transplant community since 1999 when I was diagnosed with end stage liver disease and put on the transplant waiting list. I didn’t have any of the normal diseases that caused you to need a liver transplant. I had damaged my own liver by drinking a little too much alcohol. Okay, way too much alcohol. On August 3, 1996 I came to within minutes of losing my life and it was forever transformed.
I came to realize how precious life was and began a journey that is truly amazing. I began attending support groups five days a week including one day a week of AA. The group leader told me he saw me becoming a speaker. I didn’t believe it but sure enough it happened. I started leading the AA meeting and then the liver support group and then became President of United Organ Transplant Association (UOTA). That’s when I also got involved with OneLegacy as an ambassador and met Daniel Ronco. He told me about the Transplant Games and asked if he could share it with UOTA. He came and told us about the games and then I started hearing more and more about it. I thought I could never go because I hadn’t had a transplant.
On March 6, 2008 I was given a second chance at life by my donor and hero Quincey Greer. I received my liver transplant and one of the first things I thought was, “Now I can go to the Transplant Games.” In 2010 it happened to be in Madison, Wisconsin which is only about two hours from my sister Gloria’s house. She decided to come with me.
We both got hooked. Being around so many recipients and donor families is an incredible feeling. The emotion we share as we trade stories is unforgettable. Watching a 10-year-old stop short of the finish line during his race so that a younger boy on a walker could take home the bronze medal. The whole stadium cheering on a woman as she slowly finished her race in last place. These are the things that make the Games so very, very special.
The Games were started to show the world how much the precious gift of life given by an organ donor means to the person that receives it. If only everyone could witness it firsthand I think they would not hesitate to become a registered organ and tissue donor. As a grateful liver recipient, I’m asking everyone to register at donateLIFEcalifornia.org and give more people the chance to be transformed