Michael White is thrilled with the five medals he won at the recent World Transplant Games in Spain, but what he cherishes most is meeting other transplant recipients.
The 60-year-old Keiraville resident was born with Alport syndrome, a genetic condition characterised by kidney failure, and he underwent his first transplant in 1975 at the age of 18.
Unfortunately the transplant didn’t prove successful, neither did his second kidney transplant three years later, but his third transplant – in 1985 – has lasted the distance.
‘’I was 16 and in the middle of my HSC when I went into renal failure and had to go straight onto dialysis,’’ Mr White said.
‘’The third transplant has been going on 32 years now. It gave me back my energy, it let me eat and drink normally again, and it allowed me to compete in sport again.’’
The father-of-two competed at his first World Transplant Games in Austria in 1987, and has since enjoyed six games – most recently in Malaga in June.
He’s bagged 40 medals in swimming events over the years – this year bringing home gold in the 200m medley and 100m backstroke; silver in the 400m and 200m freestyle and bronze in 100m breaststroke.
‘’I like taking part to help spread the message about the importance of organ donation and to appreciate what donor families have done,’’ Mr White said.
‘’I also want to show that you can lead a normal life post transplant, and I enjoy the competitive side of the games.
‘’The best part is getting together with other recipients and sharing stories; everyone has the same result, but everyone has a different lead-up.’’
During DonateLife Week, which runs until Sunday, Mr White’s wife Teresa urged Australians to register their donation decision and talk about it with their loved ones.
‘’During a life and death situation emotions run high, so people need to talk to their families and make their decision to donate clear before anything ever happens,’’ Ms Johnson-White said.
NSW residents can register as donors online at www.donatelife.gov.au.