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Live on TransWeb...1998 US Transplant Games

The Circle of Love
Story by Jim Gleason, photography by Joel Lerner
See Badminton Results at

Several weeks before the Games, a daughter posted a message on the Transplant newsgroup asking for some support. Her mom was a kidney recipient and wanted to come to the games but was afraid of "making a fool of herself" there. As a grandmother, her athletics consisted of playing badminton with her kids and she wanted to help with the cause, but wow, "in front of a crowd?"

As a fellow recipient who had "made a statement of fun" at the '96 Games, I called and encouraged Marta to "go for it!" While there were many serious competitors, many more were true amateurs just thrilled with the posttransplant experience of competing in anything. For these, the goal was supporting the public education of transplant success and donor awareness, winning was just being on the field of competition. I promised to be there cheering from the sidelines and the deal was made: she would go and play badminton, bringing her daughters, and grandchildren too.

Marta's special story and loving family support are captured in her story "Life...My Life Goes On" , but now she was at badminton, playing her heart out, face full of smiles as family (and I) supported from the baselines. Marta was a winner, even though her opponent outscored in the points of badminton. After the match, Marta and I met for the first time "face to face" and her girls and our families blended in tears of common recognition. We all knew that one of the most important factors in transplant recovery is the support of family. Marta and I both had been blessed with the love that made it possible to be here, competing in badminton, at the US Transplant Games - "Awesome!" Tears filled our eyes as we shared that joy. What wonderful families we both had.

I had just decided to pass on my spot on the badminton ladder due to knee problems from the day before. But eeing Marta out on that court, how could I not also play? My wife pointed out that I didn't have a racket to play with. Marta offered hers. The roles were switched. Now it was Marta encouraging Jim! Yes, Marta, I would do it. She and her cheerleading family - Kay, Christel, Dorothe, and their children - would be back at noon to join my own family - Jay and Mary - when I would take the court.

I too won in the playing, but lost in the score of badminton to Paul, my wonderful kidney transplant opponent.

We all left as close family friends, filled with stories of how Marta's family had welcomed her to breakfast this morning of her match with matching T-shirts announcing "GO MOM!" and for the grandchildren, the German "GO OMA!" -- (German for "Go grandma!") Marta's beautiful accent from her homeland of Germany will ring in all our ears for many years to come.

Marta and her family at the Badminton courts

Thanks for being there for all of us, Marta! You did an amazing job of getting the world to see what a success transplantation really is - from a family view - and what a wonderful family you have!







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Last modified: 11 May 2000