Santa Monica Patch | Lee Bernfield
Santa Monica resident and kidney transplant recipient Tom Elias, took silver in the 50-yard breaststroke and bronze in the long jump at the bi-annual Transplant Games of America, held July 28-31, in Grand Rapids, MI. This was Tom's eighth Transplant Games. He first participated in the 1998 Games, just nine months after his transplant.
On Sept. 17, 1997, Tom had a kidney transplant at age 53. He had been diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease in 1989 and had tried every kind of diet in hope of controlling the symptoms to avoid further kidney deterioration and possible dialysis and/or transplant. But, several years later, he went into kidney failure and was put on the kidney transplant list while on dialysis. He updated everyone in his circle about his condition (but never asked for a kidney) and 14 relatives and friends came forward and offered to be a living donor for him, including his rabbi, the rabbi’s wife and the cantor from his synagogue. “This was the most touching thing in my life -- that 14 people cared enough about me to give up a kidney,” says Elias.