The Chieftan | Caroline Boyer
When Merle Zuel received his new heart, he realized the importance of educating others about organ donation.
“For those to whom much is given, much is required,” the Bonner Springs resident said. “I feel sort of an obligation to give back to the transplant community because I’ve been so lucky.”
Five years after his heart transplant, he is doing his part to support a tradition for organ donors and recipients and their families. He is one of seven people from the Kansas City area who will travel to Grand Rapids, Mich., on Friday for the 2012 Transplant Games of America.
Having attended the 2010 U.S. Transplant Games, then organized by the National Kidney Foundation, Zuel knew how important the games were to the organ donor and recipient community.
“A big part of the games revolves around recognition of donor families,” Zuel said. “When people who’ve had a life-saving transplant are able to compete in athletic competition, it reinforces the fact that the donor families made the right decision.”
But the National Kidney Foundation announced last year it would be unable to continue the biennial games, so a group of volunteers and the West Michigan Sports Commission came together to organize this year’s event, and Zuel said he was quick to join the Mo-Kan team.