STORY: David Stringer
PHOTOGRAPHY: Cheri Smith, Scott Bennett, Jeannette Quirk, Marilyn Indahl

Bowling as a Team Sport

Bowling, at least in the United States, has the reputation of being a social sport. There are bowling teams, but there is no real teamwork beyond the encouragement and support that team members provide one another before individual scores are added up. Some have said that bowling is simply an excuse for folks to get together and maybe drink a little beer.

In the spirit of these World Transplant Games, bowling is very much a team sport. Bowlers from the same national teams encourage and support one another, but the bonding goes much deeper than that.

Kimberly Stahlbaum from Canada and Ineke Lambiron of Sweden met at badminton during the World Games in Japan four years ago and ended up as friends, even swapping shoes. Stahlbaum, who has received two livers (1992 and 1996), was bowling with the aid of two canes. The steriods required to make her transplants successful led to two knee replacements, and she is waiting for new hips. Her use of the canes has not dampened her spirits at all, nor does it prevent her from competing in lawn bowls.

The medicines that helped Lambiron's 1993 and 1997 kidney transplants also led to her needing hip replacement surgeries. She is grateful on behalf of others that newer medicines are not so damaging to the bones. She will compete in table tennis and athletics as well as bowling.

Stahlbaum attended the games to promote transplantation and to demonstrate that it works. "I'm a registered nurse," she said, "and many people in my own profession do not realize how important transplantation is." She is also there to see her friend. "When we see each other, it feels like we have completed a family."

Another clothing exchange took place between two other bowling competitor/friends: Raffaele Giuliano from Italy and Akiyoshi Noguchi from Japan. Through a translator, Giuliano explained that he had received a bone marrow transplant in 1998, and that he will also be competing in table tennis and volleyball. Noguchi, who received a kidney in 1997 and is a multiple gold medal winner in the past, spoke through translator Mami Okubo, the daughter of another competitor. Like many people attending the London games, he is here to meet people and renew friendships. Okubo and Giuliano traded shirts.

Noguchi won the gold in the Super Senior age bracket (40-49). Winning the silver was Gerald Cotter from San Diego in the United States. He received a kidney twelve years ago and is competing in bowling, tennis and table tennis. Cotter called attending the games every year "my vacation," and said that he comes "to be among others like yourself, where you can really talk about stuff." He has participated in this bonding through five World Games and five U.S. Games.

Another kind of bonding: Annette Falt from Sweden received a kidney from her father in 1986, and she reports that he is now "85 years old and going strong." She attended her first games in Singapore in 1989 and attended all the World Games since then with the exception of 1993, when she was having her child, Anton, who accompanied her to London. "I won my gold medal at home," she smiles.

She says she is better at badminton than bowling, but the most important reason she comes to the transplant games every year is the bonding. "It's fun to meet the same people always," she says. She is also attempting to bond in a way with potential donors, sending them a message: "If you give your organs, you help us so much."

top of this page About TransWeb TransWeb's privacy policy Nothing on TransWeb is intended as medical advice! Please contact us for permission to reprint material on TransWeb. Copyright 2005 The Regents of the University of Michigan webcast sponsors TransWeb's front page

Last updated on: Friday, 05-Feb-2010 10:11:56 EST