STORY: David Stringer
PHOTOGRAPHY: Sarah Ause and David Stringer

"The Hate Was on Me"

It's not unusual to hear about transplant recipients' experiencing a profound sense of renewal.

Most were very close to death, and thanks to the expertise of medical professionals and the generosity of donors, they are here at the Games, alive and competing. In the case of John Wyant, competing for the team in search of an acronym (MA/NH/VT/RI*), has experienced a rebirth into family love.

"Mom was very hard on me as a kid," he explains. "When I left high school I went to New Hampshire and did not look back. I wrote my family off." Shaking his head, he says, "I hated my mother."

Born with a strep infection, he was given too much antibiotics, with the result that his kidneys did not develop. "All my life I was waiting to die."

Two years ago, following a religious experience that told him to refuse dialysis, he found himself working in Wisconsin with only two weeks to live. The National Kidney Foundation helped him to locate his mother, with whom he had not spoken in over twelve years. After a lot of hesitation he called his mother, telling her, "I need a kidney."

"I'll fly right out," she said. "I love you."

When she arrived, she quickly breezed through the required paperwork, saying, "I hope this makes up for what I did to you."

Wyant now realizes that his mother was very young when she had him, and it was a struggle for her to be a mother. He also realizes that while she was hard on him for a few years, he was carrying the hatred within his heart for over a decade. This was his burden, and something he could correct. "The hate," he says, "was on me." Now he speaks of the need to get beyond hatred, to meet the eyes of strangers, to connect with people. He has been reborn into a new appreciation of life.

Wyant plays an aggressive brand of basketball for Team MANHVTRI*. His nickname, he says, is Devastator. He plays that way because he is protecting and honoring the kidney from his living donor, his mother.

"Basketball," he states, "kept me alive."

*Here's a suggestion for an acronym for this team's name: NEWC (pronounced "nuke"), which would stand for New England Without Connecticut, and would lend itself well to celebrating victories: "We NEWC'd them!"





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Last updated on: Friday, 05-Feb-2010 10:05:42 EST