Luck, Life and 9 Transplant Games: An Athlete's Story


After receiving life-saving kidney transplants from his parents, UA alumnus Zachary Brooks chose to dedicate himself to the transplant movement. He is gearing up to compete in the World Transplant Games in Spain.

"We also compete knowing that donor families – families who have donated their loved ones' organs to others – have made a life-saving and a life-transforming decision that should not be forgotten," writes Zachary Brooks (second from left), who is preparing to compete in the World Transplant Games in Spain.
I was living in Palo Alto, California, and I took my regular weekend trip to Santa Cruz to play soccer at the beach. But on this Sunday, I broke my toe. What I didn't know then was that a simple X-ray and blood draw later that day at the hospital would change my life.

My kidneys, the doctors found, were failing.

Over the next nine years, I would go on to receive two kidney transplants — the first from my father, Stephen, in 1999 and the second from my mother, Nancy, in 2007.

After receiving my second transplant in June 2007, I decided that I needed give back somehow, namely to my parents who saved me, and to others like me and their donors and their families. And because "thank you" to my parents falls short on so many levels, I now dedicate a portion of life each year to competing in the U.S. Transplant Games or the World Transplant Games.

For the organ transplant community, these are the Olympic Games. The World Transplant Games have taken place since 1987. More than 3,000 athletes from ages 4 to 84 from 70 member countries compete in 50 events. In last few years, the Games have been held in Argentina, South Africa, Sweden and Australia in support of organ donation. Continue reading

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