What are the Transplant Games?
Before diving into Iris’ experience at the games, it’s important to know how the Transplant Games came to be. Produced by the Transplant Life Foundation, the Transplant Games “honor the lasting legacy of donors who gave the ultimate gift of life; highlight the need for and importance of organ, eye, and tissue donation; celebrate the success of transplantation; and increase national and state registry numbers.”
During this week-long event, 40 state teams and several international teams (made up of transplant recipients and living donors) compete in 20 athletic and recreational competitions. In addition to these medaling events, there are over 60 special events. Through the Transplant Games, transplant recipients show how transplants are a second chance at a life while demonstrating to their donor families what their gift means to them.
Iris Resto’s Transplant Games Experience
Learning About the Games
In her late 20s, Iris Resto was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease. “I didn’t know what ADPKD was,” Iris said. Trying to learn more about her disease, she struggled to find information. “I want PKD patients to have information when they’re diagnosed. They should know everything about the disease they have.”
When she was on dialysis, Iris only met one person with ADPKD. It was at this same that she first heard about the transplant games. “I knew that someday I wanted to be a part of it,” Iris shared. Because she was concerned about her athletic abilities, she wondered how she could best participate. Thankfully, the Transplant Games offered a wide array of activities.
Competing in the Transplant Games
In summer 2022, Iris completed in her first Transplant Games. “I competed in the 5k, trivia, and played corn hole—winning a silver metal playing corn hole doubles,” Iris shared. The experience was everything she dreamt of, leaving her wishing she’d learned about it sooner.
“It was a fantastic experience; I’d recommend it to anyone who has a transplant. I am still so excited that I had the chance to go,” Iris said.
Among the many reasons for loving the experience, meeting the transplant community, including donor families, was at the top of the list. “I’d encourage recipients to try and attend at least once. It’s a wonderful experience meeting so many people with transplants. Plus, meeting the donor families who gave us a second chance.” She even met a fellow PKD Ambassador, Nancy Kaminski. Although the beginning of Iris’ ADPKD journey was tough, she now has the PKD Foundation and transplant communities to support her.
While the next Transplant Games of America event isn’t until 2024, it’s never too early to start thinking about participating. To learn more about the event and to see if your city has a team, contact the Transplant Games of America. You can also learn more about the transplantation process and read transplant stories like this one to get you in the spirit.