World Transplant Games 2017

It was the final day of competition and Addison’s last chance for a medal at the World Transplant Games in Malaga, Spain…though a podium placement was pretty much guaranteed because she was one of only three competitors in her age group. But this third and final event, ball throw, was the one nearest to her heart. And she was going for gold…not really because she wanted to be number one, but mostly because she wanted a medal in each colour – she already had silver in the 50-metre run and bronze in long jump. Gotta love that 6-year old point of view!

Addison and Aaron had practised balled throw a LOT. Up until a month before we left, ball throw training was hit and miss, literally. There were tears of frustration, stomps of “I can’t do it!”, and a few moments of joy in between. Then they figured out a technique that works for Addison. I won’t even bother describing it but let’s just say when I saw the girls from Hungary throwing at the WTG, Aaron and I looked at each other and laughed. Addison has the Eastern European ball throw technique down pat, and it certainly works for her. Her winning throw was a metre longer than her other two little competitors!! Addison was so proud of herself. She said she really wanted to win gold at this one because she worked so hard on getting better. What an awesome feeling to see your child reach her goal, with a lot of perseverance and a little luck. Proud parent moment!!!!

But regardless of all the hard work and training, at the end of it all, there is only one reason Addison and her 2000 fellow athletes are even able to run, jump, bike, swim, bowl, play tennis, golf or kayak. The gift of life from their donors. And the ultimate way to show that gift isn’t going to waste is getting out there and using it. In Malaga, the young, old, everything in between, whether they were uberfit bodybuilders or the complete opposite, each one a survivor of a life-threatening illness and a transplant surgery, scars proudly on display, out there giving it their all. It was incredibly inspiring and moving. There were several beautiful tributes to the donors during the week and many tears as we remembered how fortunate we were to be there. We are so grateful to our donor Audrey and her mom Felicia.

After a week together, we said good-bye to our fellow Team Canada teammates and our new and old transplant friends from around the world. It was a little sad, tinged with uncertainty. Not to sound morbid, but you never know what lies ahead, especially when you’re a transplant recipient. We can only hope to see all our friends again at the Canadian Transplant Games in Vancouver in June 2018. That’s the reality of life after transplant. But I believe it won’t always be
this way. That’s why the work of the Transplant Research Foundation of BC is so important. Research has made transplants the incredibly successful medical treatment they are today, and research will be what makes transplant a cure so we will always be able to say with certainty, “See you at the next Games!”