Transplant patients from Texas Children's Hospital to compete at Transplant Games of America


HOUSTON - (July 26, 2012) - While athletes from all over the world will be gathering in London for the 2012 Summer Olympics, hundreds of other athletes whose lives were saved by organ transplantation will gather to compete for the gold at the Transplant Games of America in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The Renal Service and the Heart Center from Texas Children's Hospital in Houston will send three kidney transplant recipients and two heart transplant recipients to the Games to participate as part of Team Texas during the four-day, biannual Olympic-style event that celebrates patient athletes who have received a life-saving organ transplantation. For more information about transplantation at Texas Children's Hospital visit: www.texaschildrens.org/transplant.

"Our patients are going to the Transplant Games because Texas Children's Renal Service offers a unique Quality of Life program," said Helen Currier, director of Renal and Pheresis Services at Texas Children's Hospital. "We not only want to provide the best medical care for our patients, but we also offer opportunities that enrich the quality of their lives so they are not defined by their medical challenges. Our participation in these Games encourages an active, healthy lifestyle after transplant, raises public awareness and support for organ donation and honors organ donors and donor families."

Nearly 1,200 athletes from 48 states are expected to attend the National Transplant Games of America. The Opening Ceremonies on July 28, roughly coinciding with the 2012 Summer Olympics, will include the parade of athletes and the lighting of the cauldron. The event concludes July 31 with Closing Ceremonies where the Team Cup Award and Outstanding Athlete Award winners will be announced.

These three patients are among the participants who will represent Texas Children's Hospital in Team Texas.

  • KEYON TOLBERT - Age 15 years - kidney transplant patient - Texas Children's Hospital

    Keyon was born with a genetic kidney disease where one kidney was larger than the other. His disease was diagnosed when he was about 7 years old. By the time he was 10, he needed dialysis three days per week. Later, as his disease progressed, doctors removed both kidneys. He was on a wait list for a donor kidney for more than two years. He finally got his kidney transplant in March 2010. Now he participates in activities that he missed while he was so sick. . Keyon likes to travel to new places and meet new people. He leaves for the National Transplant Games of America on July 27 where he will participate in swimming, basketball and track.
  • JAKOB LOPEZ - Age 20 years - heart transplant patient - Texas Children's Hospital

    Jakob is a heart transplant patient who was diagnosed as a child with a defective bicuspid valve. Even though his heart was not perfect, he was an avid soccer player throughout his childhood. He was a high school student with offers of soccer scholarships from two colleges when doctors said he needed heart surgery to repair the defect. Four open heart surgeries later, Jakob found himself waiting on a heart transplant list for a donor heart. He was 17-years-old when he got his new heart in 2009. After months of recovery, he was ultimately able to play soccer again as a freshman at Mary Hardin-Baylor University in Belton, Texas. Now at age 20 and taking college courses in San Antonio, he feels thankful to have a second chance at life and to use his athletic ability at the upcoming National Transplant Games of America in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Jakob looks forward to meeting other transplant patients who share his experience as an organ donor recipient. Jakob will compete in cycling and track.
  • PAUL MEIKLE - Age 18 years - heart transplant patient - Texas Children's Hospital

    Paul played basketball and track in high school until he collapsed one day during a training session. He was brought to the hospital by ambulance where he was diagnosed with a severe heart condition called cardiomyopathy. After a pacemaker/defibrillator was unsuccessful in controlling his dangerous heart rhythms, surgeons implanted a HeartMate II, or left ventricular assist device, that would keep him alive until a donor heart was found. He received that gift of life in January 2010. Paul is grateful to have an active life once again. He will participate in basketball and track at the Transplant Games.

About Texas Children’s Hospital

Texas Children’s Hospital, a not-for-profit health care organization, is committed to creating a healthier future for children and women throughout the global community by leading in patient care, education and research. Consistently ranked as the best children’s hospital in Texas, and among the top in the nation, Texas Children’s has garnered widespread recognition for its expertise and breakthroughs in pediatric and women’s health. The hospital includes the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute; the Feigin Center for pediatric research; Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, a comprehensive obstetrics/gynecology facility focusing on high-risk births; Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, a community hospital in suburban West Houston; and Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands, a second community hospital planned to open in 2017. The organization also created the nation’s first HMO for children, has the largest pediatric primary care network in the country and a global health program that’s channeling care to children and women all over the world. Texas Children’s Hospital is affiliated with Baylor College of Medicine. For more information, go to www.texaschildrens.org. Get the latest news by visiting the online newsroom and Twitter at twitter.com/texaschildrens.