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Kimberly Stahlbaum, two-time liver transplant recipient, proudly accepts the gold medal for singles pétanque for the Canadian team at the World Transplant Games in Durban, South Africa. (Photo: Kimberly Stahlbaum)

My name is Kimberly Stahlbaum and I was born with an unknown liver disease.

I am a two time liver transplant recipient: September 1992 and May 1996. I've never allowed my illness to stop me from living a full life.

I've been a spokesperson for organ donation since 1988 and was one of the organizers of the 'York University Transplant Games' and the 'Walk around Queen's Park'.

In January 1985, I began working as a nurse and never looked back. Today, I work as a nurse on the medical-surgical day unit at Toronto General Hospital.

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Stahlbaum concentrates on ‘getting the shot’ while playing pétanque at the Games in South Africa.
(Photo: Kimberly Stahlbaum)

Representing Canada at the World Transplant Games

This summer, I had the privilege of attending the 19th World Transplant Games in Durban, South Africa for seven days. About 50 countries were represented, and over 1,000 organ transplant recipients, ranging from 7-78 years of age competed in a variety of indoor and outdoor sports. 

The purpose of the Games is to show the world how successful transplant surgery can be, especially for those suffering from end-stage organ failure. The World Games encourages people to become organ donors.

During my time in South Africa, I travelled to Cape Town to tour, Durban to compete in the Games, and ended my journey with a short safari.  It was a wonderful time!

The highlight of the games was meeting up with recipients from other countries, whom I've met before, and seeing how well they are doing.

I competed in singles/doubles pétanque, doubles lawn bowls, and single table tennis.  I came home with gold, silver, and bronze medals for our Canadian team. Overall, Canada placed 12th in the Games out of 50 countries. I was so thrilled to represent Canada as a successful transplant recipient and to promote a healthy lifestyle. 

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Near Cape Town, South Africa, Stahlbaum toured a Wildlife Ranch and fed a few lemurs. (Photo: Kimberly Stahlbaum)

Canadian Transplant Games travel to New Brunswick next summer

The World Transplant Games are held every two years, including both summer and winter games. On alternative years, individual countries host their own games. The Canadian Transplant Games began in 2000 and this coming summer, it will be located in Moncton, New Brunswick, July 7-12, 2014.   I have been very fortunate as I've been healthy enough to attend all Canadian Transplant Games except one. 

I'd like to encourage all donor families, patients waiting for organs, and organ recipients to attend this summer. During the games, we support each other and become a close network of friends.

In 2015, the 20th World Transplant Games will be in Argentina – see you there!

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