Athlete Profile

Name: Arthur Schultz

Age: 32

Transplant: Kidney,1987

Team: Team Virginia

Hometown: Richmond

Event(s):Badminton and 3 on 3 Basketball

During my junior year at Old Dominion University in September of 1987, just as I was about ready to launch into what I hoped would be a promising career, I came home to Richmond to attend my five-year high school reunion, only to find myself a patient at St.Mary's hospital for 20 straight weeks.

I was diagnosed with pancreatitis, a ruptured pancreas, which caused kidney failure. That meant almost daily sessions on a dialysis machine. During this time my weight fell from 200 pounds to a frail one hundred and thirty. All of a sudden I was fighting for my life, given less than a 25 per cent chance to live. My family and my girlfriend were shocked and alarmed. I was caught off guard with no idea what the medical problems were or what treatment for them might mean to my life.

The doctors and nurses who tended me were patient and helpful, but their care did not alleviate the problem with myself, which was how to deal with the realization that the active life I knew was going to change dramatically. I could no longer take my health for granted. But more importantly, I could not take my independence for granted. I'm the oldest of three children and loved my self-sufficiency. Now I was left with a feeling of helplessness and had to depend more upon my family than ever before.

My diet, weights attitudes, dreams, friendships, goals in life - everything, even my clothes - changed at once, The ambitions I hoped to fullfill in my twenties were put on hold. To be honest, I was upset, disappointed, felt cheated and betrayed by my body. Little did I know of the downside of life. I had been naive to think my experience would continue without events happening that I had not the power to control.

It was then I learned something of the human will. To sunrise fight back, was all I thought of. It seemed to come from a greater source - both inside and outside of me - I had been unaware of. Somehow I learned, despite the facts of my own body, better days lay ahead.

I say this now, but from the beginning, my recovery was long and difficult, both mentally and physically. When I was sixteen I could run 10 miles a day. Now I couldn't mount ten flights of stairs. My father phrased it best. "Two steps forward and one step back" he told me. This was my basic strategy. I would have to get used to reversals and learn to overcome them. But there were also not what I would say miracles, but certainly a generosity of spirit from others. It was discovered that my fathers kidneys were a perfect match for me - almost as if we were twins. SO after two years on dialyses my father donated one of his kidneys to me. From then on I was able to live a more ordinary life. After that, even though my health steadily improved, there would also be setbacks - or at least side steps.

After spending what amounts to almost two years of the last eight in a hospital bed - I was in and out more times than I can count - I've had time to focus my thoughts. Something is gained by loss. I was given strength I did not know I possessed. I realize I can't recapture the life I had, but can only go forward with God's grace and continue my life's journey, one of discovery and one that has turned into even more of an adventure. Recently, for example, I competed in the l994 Transplant Olympics in Atlanta, something I would not have allowed myself to dream of only a few years ago. I was once a young man with much promise, but had to rely on faith, a supportive family and time to keep it. Without these key elements, my life would never had been the same.

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Last modified: 11 May 2000