(WGNO) – There’s a team of athletes from Louisiana who are doing something extraordinary. They are all transplant recipients and they are competing in the Transplant Games of America in Houston, Texas.
Tyrone Cooper is one of the athletes going for the gold. Cooper received a heart transplant, which he’s eternally grateful for.
“If I hadn’t got the heart, I know I wouldn’t be here, ” he said.
Cooper’s been training at Elmwood Fitness for the upcoming Transplant Games.
He received his heart from a man from Houma who had an aneurysm. The man’s family donated his organs.
Getting a heart transplant has given Tyrone a new life. He’s now using his heart in ways he never thought possible.
Tyrone’s excited to be competing in the Transplant Games.
He’s being coached by Kim Black, who won the gold medal in swimming for the 4 by 2 freestyle in Sydney, Australia at the 2000 games.
“I know what it’s like to be an underdog and accomplish something that people don’t expect,” Black said.
After winning her gold medal, Kim’s made it her mission to work with heart transplant recipients and their donors. She’s currently a social worker for Ochsner Medical Center.
“They are heroes to me. They remind me everyday of the gift of life,” she said.
“We don’t only look at Kim as an Olympic-winning athlete, but she really cares about her patients,” Cooper said.
The Transplant Games are raising awareness about the importance of organ donation.
“I want to celebrate life. I’m tired of seeing my patients die. The only way to change that is for more people to be registered donors. More than 120-thousand people are waiting for a transplant and just one organ donor can save as many as 9 lives,” she said.
Tyrone’s days away from competing in the Transplant Games, but in the game of life he’s already a winner.
“I already won the game, when I was able to have a donor donate an organ to me,” Cooper said.
The Transplant Games take place from July 11-July 15.
For more information on the Transplant Games: www.transplantgamesofamerica.org
For more information on donor registry: www.donatelifela.org