My third trip to the Transplant Games of America, this year in Houston, Texas, was even more rewarding than the previous two in 2010 and 2012.
In addition to watching my nephew Zach Brooks compete in swimming, bicycling and track with two transplanted kidneys, I got to see my brother, Stephen Brooks, who is recovering from cancer surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Steve was Zach's first donor 15 years ago and his mother Nancy his second donor seven years ago.
A big part of this celebration of life is exchanging team pins. My nephew's team is SoCal, Southern California, so that is the pin I exchanged with a 4-year-old girl who gave me a pewter pin of a heart, her transplant. Young liver transplant bicyclists exchanged pins from their teams with me.
My husband, George, was our main exchanger; granddaughter Alison Smith helped, and we were able to get every pin except from Hawaii and Puerto Rico; yes, they came from that far for this celebration, in addition to Alaska.
On a sad note, one of the twin women with double-lung transplants passed away last year, but from cancer, not lung problems; the surviving twin plays the bagpipes.
This year there were more young people, from age 3 up, with liver and heart transplants than before. It made me even more acutely aware that all of us should be willing to share whatever is usable upon our deaths, whether they be from accidents or natural causes. Be a donor.
Terry E. Mason