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Team Utah Idaho reunite with clinicians from transplant program

8/26/2012

MURRAY – Members of Team Utah Idaho, who this summer won the 2012 Transplant Games Cup, celebrated their historic victory last week with many of the people who not only enabled them to compete, but also helped save their lives.

Team Utah Idaho transplant athletes reunited with physicians, nurses, coordinators and others from the Intermountain Medical Center Transplant Program.

Team Utah Idaho took home the top prize at the Olympic-style games – the Transplant Games Team Cup – as the top-scoring team of 2012. Held this year in Grand Rapids, Michigan, nearly 1,000 athletes, 1,500 donor families, and 700 volunteers from 46 states helped makes the games one of the most successful in its history.

The Utah and Idaho athletes brought with them the 3-foot-tall Team Cup, which will be permanently housed at Intermountain Medical Center after making stops at Primary Children’s and the University of Utah.

One of those athletes celebrating was Intermountain Medical Center employee Brian Batt.

In 2006, Brian was battling kidney failure and awaiting a kidney pancreas transplant. Six years later, he’s a silver and bronze medalist from the 2012 Transplant Games.

Diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at age 9, Brian, now 43, enjoyed good health until his kidneys began failing in early 2006.

“I was an active person before but I was tired all the time,” says Brian, who works as a clinical information coordinator at Intermountain Medical Center. “I would go to work, go home for lunch and need to sleep, go back to work, then come home and need to sleep again. I was totally worn down.”

In March 2007, Brian received a new kidney and pancreas during surgery at LDS Hospital. The transplant cured his diabetes and provided him with a healthy kidney, allowing him to return to an active, healthy lifestyle.

Brian, who has competed twice in the Transplant Games, says these games are different from the Olympics we watch on TV.

“It’s competitive but everyone is there for the same reason — to celebrate life and those who have donated their organs. It’s just a huge family feeling that you’re there celebrating,” he says.

This year Brian competed in five events – long jump, high jump, the men’s 4X100 meter relay, volleyball, and softball throw – and medaled in all but one.

The team consisted of 19 athletes including 17 members who have received an organ and two living donors. They competed in 32 events to win 48 gold, 23 silver, and 16 bronze medals for an overall medal count of 88.

“It was an incredible experience,” says Kandis Schwartz, Assistant Director of Intermountain Medical Center’s Transplant Program, who also attended the games. “During the games, our team became a transplant family. The whole team would show up at events to cheer on each athlete as they competed to honor the gift of life they received from their organ donor.”

The Transplant Games of America are a multi-sport, five-day festival held every other year to promote the need for organ and tissue donation and highlight athletes who have undergone life-saving transplant surgeries and those who gave them the gift of life.

The games started as a way to spread the word about the need for organ donation, but over the years it has grown into a national event that brings transplant and donor families together.

 Participants compete in a variety of sports including 5K run, badminton, basketball, bowling, cycling, golf, racquetball, swimming, table tennis, tennis, track & field, and volleyball.

Sponsors of Team Utah Idaho included Intermountain Donor Services, Intermountain Medical Center Transplant Services, National Kidney Foundation of Utah and Idaho, Primary Children’s Medical Center Transplant Services, University of Utah Solid Organ Transplant Program and Veterans Affairs Hospital.

National Transplant Statistics
Source: Donate Life America

114,712 patients waiting for an organ
64,292 multicultural patients
1,737 pediatric patients
28,535 organ transplants performed in 2011
14,144 organ donors in 2011

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