About

The Athletes

Herb Herman, liver and kidney recipient

The Failure of my kidneys and liver was due to Hemochromatosis (retention of Iron) a genetic defect and at the time very under diagnosed.  I was sent by the VA to Oregon where the Transplant recipients are evaluated. Oregon Health Sciences and the VA turned me down for the transplant because they felt my heart wasn’t up to surviving a transplant and I was put on Hospice.

I returned to Fremont California and saw my VA doctor again, Dr. Neville Pemstone at UC Davis and Mather, a liver Doctor. They studied the tests from OHSU and could not see why my heart was a problem. The called my Primary Care physician at Kaiser and Dr Pemstone requested my Kaiser doctor (a former student of his) put me in the program at University of California San Francisco (UCSF). I checked into the hospital the same day. I went from not being on the waiting list for a transplant in hospice to Number 1 on the list and put in a coma.

Three weeks later a donor was found, and I received a 3rd kidney and liver from a 39-year-old female. October 23 1998!

It took several years to recover to where I felt normal and to prove to the VA my heart was healthy. To show them I was getting stronger, I entered the 2000 USA Transplant Games. I entered swimming events in 2000, the 50-year anniversary of Transplants, and I won several events in Indianapolis, MN. In 2001 I won 5 World Games medals in Kobe, Japan. I attended the 2002 and 2004 games at Disney World Orlando, FL. Then in 2005, I medaled in another world competition in Ontario, Canada. My last Transplant Games was in 2006 in Louisville,KY, and I’m very excited to be in the 2018 Games.  My medal count is about 23, however it is a little off since I have given some away!

I proved to the VA, OHSU and myself that my heart was nota problem.  In 2008,I decided to swim against some healthy people (non-transplant people) and entered the Arizona Senior Games. I medaled in the 100 meter breaststroke. I was beat at the end of the race and dragged myself out of the pool. I went back to the Northwest and had a stress test. The result is a stint in my left anterior descending artery. I now know my heart is a problem.

I am a pretty lucky and thankful Bionic human. My life expectancy in 1998 was 10 years and it is now going on 20 years’ post-transplant. I have had 2 partial knee replacements, a heart stint and transplant. On the lighter side, did I tell you my donor is a female so they let me race against the girls?

Before 1998, I was a Navy electronics technician but in reality a Nuclear Reactor operator on a Submarine (USS Dace SSN607) from 1960-1966. Then became an Air Traffic Controller in the FAA (1970-1996), my hearing became poor I transition into automation/programming. Now 75 and just retired and tired but getting ready for the 70 and older swimming events in Salt Lake City, 2018!

Carol Inman, kidney recipient

The TGA (Transplant Games of America) is a powerful forum for the advocacy of organ donation.  Donation saves and extends lives and I have been dedicated to helping transplant groups over the years, i.e., serving on NKF Utah board, speaker’s bureau, and most recently two terms on TGA Athletes Advisory Council.   The last three TGA games my oldest granddaughter, Abbi, was able to accompany me and she is looking forward to joining me at the games this summer in Salt Lake City! As a 35-year transplant kidney recipient I am most grateful for the healthy and active life I have lived as a result of donation.  At the Games I gather with fellow athletes who have experienced what I have in this journey and we are all most happy to support the cause and each other. This will be my 13th transplant games (also World Games) starting with Los Angeles in 1992.

I was diagnosed with Chronic Glomerulonephritis in 1973 just prior to the early birth of my daughter.  After hemodialysis and then CAPD (Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis) for a couple of years I had a (living donor) kidney transplant in 1983 at the University of Washington Medical Center.  As a 33-year transplant recipient I am most grateful for the healthy and active life i have lived as a result of donation.  I was most fortunate to have the support of family through the early active years of raising our children.

Over the years I’ve been active with the National Kidney Foundation in different states as an advocate for organ donation.  I’ve also participated in their transplant games, both domestic and world games.  After the Transplant Games of America took over in 2012 I started to participate once more.   I will be participating this year in Salt Lake City with Team Transplant Arizona and taking my oldest granddaughter again.  Abbi, age 19, loved sharing the Houston TGA with me in 2014 and Ohio games in 2016 and asked to accompany me again this year.   These games are such a great forum for public donor awareness and a fun opportunity to meet with others who have been through the same experiences.  I’ve been on the TGA’s Advisory Board for two terms and a member of the Quarter Century Club.  The Quarter Century Club is comprised of organs recipients of at least 25 years and we will march in as a group at the Opening Ceremonies.

These are the transplant games i’ve participated in over the years, winning probably over 52 medals, mainly Gold.  I used to run Track & Field, 100m & 200m, relay, etc., but racquets sports are now what i enjoy:  badminton, tennis doubles or mixed doubles, and table tennis and this year adding pickle ball (TGA’s newest sport) which is my new love.

U.S. Games: 1992 UCLA/Los Angeles, CA, 1994 Emory Univ./Atlanta, GA, 1996 U of U/Salt Lake City, UT, 1998 OH State/Columbus, OH, 2000 Disney World/Orlando, FL, 2002 Disney World/Orlando, FL, 2012 Grand Valley U/Grand Rapids, MI, 2014 Houston, TX and 2016 Cleveland, Ohio

World Games: 1993 Vancouver BC, Canada, 1995 Manchester, England, 2001 Kobe, Japan

Daisy Johnson, heart recipient

Meet our youngest athlete representing Transplant Team Arizona this year – Daisy Johnson.
Daisy is a joyful 3-year-old who loves playing trains with her older brother. But her life had a rocky
start. She was born with a rare but serious heart defect that required a heart transplant when she was
just 10 weeks old. Luckily her special gift came quickly and she has recovered well. Now she is training
to compete against other young transplant recipients in the Youth Olympiad and Cornhole events in Salt
Team Transplant AZ

Gregory Welsh, heart recipient and donor family

Gregory Welsh received a heart transplant 7 years ago. He has experienced both sides of organ donation as he lost his wife in a car accident 15 years before his transplant.  He knows the feelings of loss from the donor side and now the joy and gratitude from receiving the gift of life. He remembers his donor by carrying his photo in his briefcase. His transplant has allowed him to attend his daughter’s graduation from ASU with a master’s degree, give back by volunteering with New Life Society, and even got to ride on a float in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California!  His donor, Fernando was memorialized on the float with his picture made of flowers and other natural materials. 

Gregory enjoys keeping an active lifestyle, especially now that he is feeling better with his new heart. He kept up being active even while waiting for transplant while hooked up to the “Freedom Driver”, a portable device that kept him alive during his wait. He spent three months on the machine but continued to exercise to get stronger in preparation for his transplant. He also went to picnics, shopping, rehab, and even to plays, where the theater made special accommodations for him to plug in his “Freedom Driver”.

Gregory competed as a part of Transplant Team Arizona in the 2014 Transplant Games of America in Houston, Texas where he competed in darts and mixed doubles bowling where he earned bronze medals in both events.  He received a Silver medal with partner Ramsey Harris in Cornhole in the 2016 Ohio Games.  And he looks forward to competing in Salt Lake City this summer.

Ed Ozier, Kidney Recipient

When I was 6 months old my Grandmother, from Italy, died of kidney disease.

When I was 12 years old my Father died of Kidney disease.

At the time of my Father’s death the first 4 dialysis machines were in Seattle, WA,  our hometown.

To be on those new machines, there were requirements such as being a contributing member of society, having a job and other things, like all around good guy.  I was fortunate to be one of those guys!

From high school to the Army and then through college, I endured random Gout attacks due to my low functioning kidneys.  Life was tough.  With only 16 units left to graduate from Northern Arizona University, the gout attacks became quite severe. My wife carried me, in the snow,  to a doctors office where I was told to get out of town and see a kidney doctor right away.

So then we moved to the Phoenix area. I saw the first Transplant and nephrologists doctors in Phoenix.  They watched me for 9 years until I needed dialysis in 1982.

My first kidney transplant was in 1982.  That kidney lasted 14 years.

My second kidney transplant was in 2002. That kidney lasted 14 years.

My third kidney transplant was in 2015. That kidney is going the distance, as it is from a 34 year old man!

I have been on dialysis 3 times for a total of 6 years.

My wife of 47 years as been has held me strong during all those years.  I’m so blessed to have her.  We also have  large support from our Christian Church.  We have 2 daughters, 3 granddaughters, and 1 grandson.

I very excited to be a part of the Transplant games in Salt Lake City.  I will be playing Table Tennis!

 

Evelyn Strope, Heart Transplant Recipient      

Evelyn “Evie” Strope has been a survivor since childhood.  Born with a congenital heart defect, Evie has faced hurdles her entire life. Her childhood was not easy with strained family relationships and open heart surgeries at 14 and 21 years old. When she was told she needed a heart transplant, family and friends were unable to give the 24 hour a day care she needed to help her recover post-transplant. But still she persisted.

She has always kept focused on giving back and the bright future in front of her. Evie says her transplant has given her a “second chance to experience life at its fullest and to give back to future recipients”. As she just celebrated her 17thyear with her new heart, she has certainly given recent recipients renewed hope. She volunteers multiple times a week to give back in honor of her donor and to show other transplant recipients that there is life after transplant.

Evie is looking forward to the whole experience of the transplant games in August. As a young athlete, her dreams of playing basketball in the Olympics or in the WNBA were dashed with her first open heart surgery. But she now looks forward to competing in the Transplant Games of America in Salt Lake City where she’ll compete in Pickle Ball and Corn Hole. We wish her the best of luck!

Jill Bowers, Kidney Recipient

1998 Transplant from Living Donor, George Bowers
2012 Transplant from Living Donor,  Katie Moorhead

“Lucky me!  That is my comment every time I’m asked about my kidney transplants!  Even today, I’m overwhelmed by the generosity of my two living donors.

After being diagnosed with end stage renal disease in 1992, I was fortunate to have my best friend George, who also happens to be my husband, donate a kidney to me on June 3, 1998!  Within days, we were back to our active life style.  We joined Team AZ and participated in our first transplant games at Orlando in 2000.  Although I won medals in tennis and biking, the real victory for us was showing appreciation to donors and donor families!

Then came 2012 when my kidney began failing.  A former student of mine, Katie Moorhead, stepped forward and offered to donate her kidney to me!  On July 25, 2012, I received my second kidney transplant.  I’m still overwhelmed that my ‘former 8th grade student’ (when I was the principal at her school) gave me my second gift of life!

Having participated in nine transplant games, I continue to enjoy the friendly competition in biking, tennis, and now pickleball.  Yet, the true gratification comes from those who chose donation in times of crisis!  I thank every person who tells me their donation story.  They are the real heroes, along with my two angels George and Katie!”

 

 

Transplant Team Arizona is a group of transplant recipients, donor family members, and living donors interested in demonstrating the effectiveness of a live-saving transplant. We grew out of the Arizona Kidney Foundation and incorporated as a 501(c)3 in 2002.

The Team was originally established to assist members with transportation and lodging for the DonateLife Transplant Games held at various cities across the US every other year. We have grown into a community of transplant recipients encouraging each other to live healthy, active lifestyles with member events and fundraising activities all year!

In 2016, the Team merged with New Life Society, an Arizona nonprofit that supports the transplant community.  Click here for more information on New Life Society.