Transplant patients team up for 2018 Transplant Games

A personal trainer, a pastor, and a 6-year-old may make an unlikely team, but from August 2 to 7 they were part of a group representing University of Iowa Health Care in the 2018 Transplant Games of America in Salt Lake City, Utah.

More importantly, they showed the world that having an organ transplant doesn’t have to keep you sidelined.

Terrell Jordan is a pastor at Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He had a heart transplant in 2006. He’s participated in several of the transplant games—mostly track and field, basketball, and volleyball—and has earned several medals. But that’s not why he keeps going back.

“It’s not about the medals,” Terrell says. “It’s about showing there’s quality of life after transplantation. Nothing can stop us—although we had a transplant, we’re just like everyone else.”

Terrell will join Bill Klahn of Cedar Rapids, Cooper Vozza of Bondurant, Iowa, and Kevin Slifka of Pleasant Hill, Iowa, as well as 10 other patients, donor family members, and living donors representing UI Health Care as part of the larger Team Iowa.

The Transplant Games started over 20 years ago to spread the word about organ and tissue donation and to bring transplant and donor families together. In 2018, the Donate Life Transplant Games are an opportunity to celebrate the lives of organ donors and recipients and their families, and to increase awareness of the overwhelming need for life-saving organ donations.  

The UI Transplant Center actively supports the patient/donor athletes on their journey to the 2018 Transplant Games. With so many people involved in the process—organ donors and recipients, physicians, coordinators, and all of the staff that make transplantation successful—transplantation is the “ultimate team sport,” according to Alan Reed, MD, director of the UI Organ Transplant Center.

“The Organ Transplant Center is important to UI Health Care, the state of Iowa, and the region because we are the only comprehensive organ transplant center in the state,” Reed says. “We transplant a majority of the organs, we have all of the specialists, and [once a patient has had a transplant] we take care of them for life. 

“I’m incredibly proud of these athletes and so pleased that they have taken this opportunity to do such great things,” Reed adds. 

Learn more about UI Transplant Center and transplant patients Terrell, Bill, Cooper, and Kevin. See moments from their competitions on the national stage via Twitter at #teamiowa2018.