Local News

N.C. Organ Transplant Athletes Head to National Games

Posted July 31, 1998 7:00 a.m. EDT

— Athletes who beat the odds are getting ready to go for the gold. Team North Carolina, made up of people who have had organ transplants, are heading to the U.S. Transplant Games.

The athletes say they are thankful for their generous blessings every day, and this event held every other year is an opportunity to publicly thank donors and their families.

The athletes were given a second gift of life, and through the Transplant Games they will be living it to the fullest.

Members of Team North Carolina are meeting and greeting each other for the very first time, but they have come to Raleigh from all over the state with one very special thing in common. These athletes are all recipients of life-saving organ transplants.

"It's a celebration for transplant recipients," said Julia Goff, who is with the National Kidney Foundation. "Kind of a public awareness to show the country that organ transplantation works, and the critical need for organ donors in this country."

The athletes just completed months of rigorous training and practice for the U.S. Transplant games. They will be competing in sports that at one time they thought they would never even be able to try.

"I'm just anxious to get involved, and let people know that there is life through transplantation," said 1994 kidney transplant recipient Bill Haskins.

"Organ donation pays off, and it gives us a second chance at life," said 1991 heart transplant recipient G.R. King. "They are rescuing the perishing and the dying when they give."

That is the message the athletes want to get across, the importance of those who make the decision to donate life saving organs.

The U.S. Transplant Games begin next Wednesday in Ohio. Local athletes say they plan on bringing the gold back home to North Carolina.