Transplant Games

Featuring Recipients of the Gift of Life, Transplant Games Kick Off in San Diego

The Transplant Games started in 1990 and have been held every two years since. This is the first time they are being held in San Diego.

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In lavish costumes and riding on floats, hundreds paraded down North Harbor Drive in San Diego on Saturday in celebration of those who had given one of the most precious gifts: a second chance at life.

“It's an opportunity for the recipients and donor families to get together,” said Bill Ryan, president and CEO of the Transplant Life Foundation.

Young and old, every person had a story to tell.

“I was born with cystic fibrosis,” said Michael Adams, a San Diego resident. “In 2002, I had 17% lung function, and I was in the ICU waiting for a pair of lungs. On Dec. 5, my pastor came and read me my last rights. I was in end-stage cystic fibrosis and dying.”

But the very next morning, Adams says he received a call that would change his life.

Since his transplant, Adams has traveled all over the world to participate in the Transplant Games.

“This is kind of my way of giving back for the gift I have been given,” Adams said.

The Transplant Games started in 1990 and have been held every two years since. This is the first time they are being held in San Diego. There are 37 teams from around the country, plus three international ones, competing in 20 events, ranging from the traditional track and field and swimming competitions to recreational ballroom dancing and cornhole.

Jackie Kacynski, a Wisconsin resident, was in San Diego to compete in a track competition 

“I was always active before I had leukemia and had a transplant,” said Jackie Kacynski, a Wisconsin resident. “The games always give me something to look forward to getting healthy again.”

The events go through Wednesday, with medals being awarded to the winners, of course, but organizers say the main objective is to raise awareness about transplants.

“Right now, there are 105,000 people in the U.S. waiting for an organ and roughly 17 will die every day because an organ was not available,” said Ryan

Organizers hope the celebration of life hope encourages others to consider the gift of a donation.

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