The Devine Ms. C

I find it possible to make long-reach plans, but knowing that life can throw its curves in, I want to really live to the extent of my abilities.

A Newfoundlander who'd had a transplant asked if I'd ever heard of any such thing as a transplant games. So I phoned the Kidney Foundation in Montreal (headquarters for the games then), and they told me all about them. At that time they were just called the Kidney Transplant Olympics. Of course later we weren't allowed to use the word "olympics." So I got a letter back saying I was on the Canadian team. I practised swimming.

The first games that I took part in were in New York City in 1980. My donor sister Brenda came with me, and cried the whole time. As I carried the flag for my team, we marched up the Avenue of the Americas. Brenda was trying to take pictures, but tears kept coming. She was overwhelmed with joy and gratitude that it had worked - that I was so healthy.

My cousins living in New York and NewJersey came to see me swim. About six or seven Canadians were on the team. The games were much smaller then. Now all other types of transplantees are participating. Everything has grown in numbers, strength and message.The games originated in England, and were moved to other host countries to increasingly promote organ donor awareness.

I competed in the following games in 1982 Athens, '84 Amsterdam, '87 Innsbruck, '89 Singapore, and I missed the games in Hungary. One month prior to the games in Budapest, I found out I couldn't compete because I needed more foot amputations due to diabetic complications. I underwent the treatment, and set my sights on the next games in Vancouver ('93).

It was very important for me to be in the games even though I knew I wasn't able to compete at that time due to ongoing foot problems. At the games I found an even greater source of hope and encouragement shared by all supporters, recipients and caregivers which I needed at that time in my life.

The support and love and neverending encouragement from family and friends and medical staff at home has always been my largest source of strength. Adding these support bases together, I often feel that I must surely be one of the luckiest people in the world.

I find it possible to make long-reach plans, but knowing that life can throw its curves in, I want to really live to the extent of my abilities.

 

As told to Cricket Fox by Carol Devine