HOUSTON, July 25, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, seven transplant recipients boarded a plane to Durban, South Africa, to represent Texas Children's Hospital and Team USA at the 19th World Transplant Games. There, these patients will join thousands of other athletes from around the world whose lives were saved by organ transplantation to compete for the gold. For more information about transplantation at Texas Children's Hospital visit: www.texaschildrens.org/transplant.
Attending the Games with Texas Children's are three renal transplant patients, two heart transplant patients, a lung transplant patient and a patient who received a kidney-liver transplant. They will participate during the week long, Olympic-style event that celebrates patient athletes who have received life-saving organ transplants.
"All of these participants had to adhere to stringent guidelines while on their respective organ waitlists which included anything from activity restrictions to travel restrictions, both of which can impact the entire family," said Dr. John Goss, medical director of the transplantation program at Texas Children's Hospital and professor of surgery and director of the Abdominal Transplant Center at Baylor College of Medicine. "After the surgery, most patients are able to resume normal activities within three months, and, as evidenced by the patients participating in the Games, can expect a full recovery."
Nearly 1,500 athletes from more than 55 countries are expected to attend the World Transplant Games. The main goal of the event is to raise public awareness of the benefits of organ donation by demonstrating the health benefits that can be achieved through physical activities and sports after organ transplantation. The Opening Ceremonies on July 29 will include the parade of athletes and the lighting of the cauldron. The event concludes Aug. 3 with Closing Ceremonies where the Team Cup Award and Outstanding Athlete Award winners will be announced.
"Participating in the World Transplant Games provides these young men and women an opportunity to truly demonstrate how much their lives have changed by receiving a life-saving transplant," said Helen Currier, director of Renal and Pheresis Services at Texas Children's Hospital. "A major emphasis for our team, through our Quality of Life program, is to help recent transplant patients focus on having a normal life that is not defined by medical challenges."
Recently, Texas Children's Hospital entered into a management agreement with the Children's Hospital of San Antonio to help expand access to world-class pediatric care to that area. As a way to continue delivering on that promise to provide access to care and opportunities to those in the San Antonio market, Texas Children's Hospital extended an invitation to a transplant patient from the Children's Hospital of San Antonio to attend the Games.
The below patients, along with seven staff members, will represent Texas Children's Hospital and Team USA:
TAYLOR DYSON – 20 years old – lung transplant patient – Texas Children's Hospital
Taylor has been an athlete and involved in sports from a very early age; at 4 years old, she was playing softball and golf. As she got older, Taylor became an even more diversified athlete participating in basketball and even joined the volleyball team in middle school.
At the age of 18, Taylor started to notice something was wrong. One day, while swimming, she became short of breath which led to an emergency room visit and a subsequent four day stay in an intensive care unit where she was placed on life support. After seeing multiple doctors, Taylor was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension and was placed on the lung transplant waiting list. Taylor received her second chance at life later that year.
Two years post-transplant, Taylor is now attending Blinn and hopes to transfer to Texas A&M in the next year. Taylor looks forward to competing in tennis, volleyball, bowling and golf at the World Transplant Games this year in Durban, South Africa.
RYAN FLORES – 20 years old – kidney transplant patient – Texas Children's Hospital
Ryan is a kidney transplant patient who unfortunately was born with damage to both of his kidneys. At just 18 months old, Ryan's father, Mike, donated a kidney to him.
As a result of their own medical struggles, the Flores family developed true empathy with others undergoing treatment for serious illnesses. As a way to reach out to others, the Flores family created The Children's Kidney Foundation to support patient families facing kidney illnesses and diseases at Texas Children's Hospital. The foundation not only supports Christmas gifts for kidney transplant patients at the holidays, but it helps families with everyday basics, such as utility bills.
At age 20, Ryan is studying biology at Abilene Christian University and has taken an active role in the family foundation. Ryan, a gold and bronze medalist in past World Transplant Games, will be competing in golf, volleyball, bowling and a ball throw at the 2013 World Transplant Games in Durban, South Africa.
DUSTI GARCIA – 18 years old – heart transplant patient – Texas Children's Hospital
Dusti, like most teenagers, grew up playing sports. Dusti participated in volleyball, softball and basketball. That all changed when she was 15 and, during a basketball game, she blacked out. Her mom immediately took her to the doctor and Dusti was diagnosed with restrictive cardiomyopathy, one of the rarest forms of cardiomyopathy.
Before being diagnosed, Dusti had been a healthy teen and had no idea that she could possibly have a heart condition. She did suffer from shortness of breath and chest pain, but ignored the symptoms due to her age and assumed it was stress related. As a result of her condition, Dusti was placed on the heart transplant wait list in need of a new heart which came on Jan. 26, 2012.
A little more than a year later, Dusti is excited about enrolling at Texas A&M Kingsville and looking for a part time job after the 2013 World Transplant Games in Durban, South Africa, where she will be participating in volleyball and badminton.
JAKOB LOPEZ – 21 years old – heart transplant patient – Texas Children's Hospital
Jakob is a heart transplant patient who was diagnosed as a child with a defective bicuspid valve. Even though his heart was not perfect, he was an avid soccer player throughout his childhood.
Jakob was a high school student with offers of soccer scholarships from two colleges when doctors said he needed heart surgery to repair the defect. Four open heart surgeries later, Jakob found himself waiting on a heart transplant list for a donor heart. He was 17 years old when he got his new heart in 2009. After months of recovery, he was ultimately able to play soccer again as a freshman at Mary Hardin-Baylor University in Belton, Texas.
Now, at age 21 and taking college courses in San Antonio, he feels thankful to have a second chance at life and to use his athletic ability at the upcoming World Transplant Games in Durban, South Africa. Jakob looks forward to meeting other transplant patients who share his experience as an organ donor recipient. Jakob will compete in tennis singles, mixed doubles and the 5k.
LESLIE MEIGS – 20 years old – kidney transplant patient – former Texas Children's Hospital patient
Leslie Meigs is a former kidney transplant patient from Texas Children's Hospital who was diagnosed with meningococcal meningitis at 8 years old. Leslie's medical situation was extremely precarious and she had to fight hard for her body not to give out. After spending two months in the hospital, where she was in a coma and on life support, Leslie's body began to slowly recover and her body functions began to work again, everything that is, except for her kidneys.
Leslie was originally told that she would need a kidney transplant at age 16, but with a very strict diet and positive lifestyle choices, Leslie was able to hold off transplantation for an additional two years. At 18, Leslie began the pre-transplant tests. She learned that her dad was an excellent match and he donated a kidney to her, which they affectionately named Neal after her father's middle name, in April 2009.
Leslie has always been active. She began dancing at the age of 8 before she became ill and it was one of the first things she wanted to do after recovering. Now, with a new kidney, she looks forward to swimming the 100 meter race and playing volleyball at the 2013 World Transplant Games in Durban, South Africa. Leslie recently transferred to the University of Houston's main campus to finish her bachelor's degree before applying to medical school.
JASMINE WILLIAMS – 18 years old – liver and kidney transplant patient – Texas Children's Hospital
Jasmine is a liver and kidney transplant recipient who, at age 7, was diagnosed with hyperoxaluria with oxalosis type 1, a rare genetic disorder in which a liver enzyme is defective which impacts the function of a person's kidney. Originally from Louisiana, Jasmine and her family would drive to and from Texas Children's Hospital in Houston for appointments and treatment. At age 8, Jasmine received her much needed donor liver and kidney and was given a second chance at life.
Two years after her transplant, Jasmine began to play softball and found joy in sports that she was unable to play while on the organ wait lists. Jasmine will get to use those skills at the 2013 World Transplant Games in Durban, South Africa competing in bowling, lawn bowling and badminton.
AMANDA GAYTAN – 20 years old – kidney transplant patient – Children's Hospital of San Antonio
Amanda is a kidney transplant patient at the Children's Hospital of San Antonio. At age 14, she began having kidney failure and to this day doctors are still unsure of exactly what the cause is. With failing kidney function, Amanda was placed on the kidney transplant list at age 15. She received her second chance at life two years later when her mother donated one of her kidneys in June 2009.
Amanda began playing basketball, volleyball and tennis in 6th grade. After her transplant, she was able to again start shooting hoops and after a few months she was back to her normal self. Amanda is extremely excited to participate in the track 200 and 400 meter races and petanque at the 2013 World Transplant Games in Durban, South Africa.
Amanda is currently a student at the University of Incarnate Word where she is studying computer graphic arts. In fact, one of her drawings was even featured in a Sharpie commercial.
About Texas Children's Hospital
Texas Children's Hospital, a not-for-profit organization, is committed to creating a community of healthy children through excellence in patient care, education and research. Consistently ranked among the top children's hospitals in the nation, Texas Children's has recognized Centers of Excellence in multiple pediatric subspecialties including the Cancer and Heart Centers, and operates the largest primary pediatric care network in the country. Texas Children's has completed a $1.5 billion expansion, which includes the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute; Texas Children's Pavilion for Women, a comprehensive obstetrics/gynecology facility focusing on high-risk births; and Texas Children's Hospital West Campus, a community hospital in suburban West Houston. For more information on Texas Children's, go to www.texaschildrens.org. Get the latest news from Texas Children's by visiting the online newsroom and on Twitter at twitter.com/texaschildrens.
About Baylor College of Medicine
Baylor College of Medicine (www.bcm.edu) in Houston is recognized as a premier academic health science center and is known for excellence in education, research and patient care. It is the only private medical school in the greater southwest and is ranked as one of the top 20 medical schools for research in the country and number one in Texas by U.S. News & World Report. BCM is listed 17th among all U.S. medical schools for National Institutes of Health funding, and No. 2 in the nation in federal funding for research and development in the biological sciences at universities and colleges by the National Science Foundation. Located in the Texas Medical Center, BCM has affiliations with nine teaching hospitals. Currently, BCM trains more than 3,000 medical, graduate, nurse anesthesia, and physician assistant students, as well as residents and post-doctoral fellows. Follow Baylor College of Medicine on facebook (http://www.facebook.com/BaylorCollegeOfMedicine) and twitter (http://twitter.com/BCMHouston).
Contact: Jenn Jacome
SOURCE Texas Children's Hospital