Friday, July 11, 2008

Atlanta Kidney Transplant Recipient to Represent Georgia in National Transplant Games in Pittsburgh

HHG Note: Another inspiring young man! Ken's story is a great reminder as to why we all need to say "yes" as a donor on our driver's license. Good luck in Pittsburgh, Ken!

While many medical students were preparing for board exams in 2006, Ken Sutha was already spending plenty of time in the hospital as a patient.

Diagnosed with kidney disease at age 10, Sutha's condition was stable through high school but worsened during college.

"I knew then that I'd have to either go on dialysis or have a kidney transplant," he says.
Sutha received his kidney from his father, Surachai, at Emory University Hospital in April 2006.

After the transplant, he wanted to find more ways to get involved with transplant patients. He become a camp counselor at Camp Independence in Rutledge, Ga., a camp for children diagnosed with kidney disease or with solid organ transplants. Now in his third year as a counselor, Sutha spends one week a summer sharing experiences with other transplant recipients.

He credits fellow counselors and campers with inspiring him to take up swimming on an advanced level, and his dedication to the sport led to another passion -- training for, and participating in, the National Kidney Foundation Transplant Games.

The Transplant Games, held this year in Pittsburgh July 11-16, are a nationwide sporting event for transplant recipients. The event is the only national athletic competition for recipients of all life-saving organ transplants, as well as the largest gathering of transplant recipients and donor families in the world. Sutha will represent Georgia and compete in the 100-meter medley and race-walking.

"The Transplant Games are something that kind of snowballed once I got into it and everyone found out," Sutha says. "One of the many reasons I am participating is to increase awareness among the general public of the critical need for more organ donors. I want to encourage others to think about organ donation and to talk to their families about it."

Now working on MD/PhD degrees with a focus on stem cell and bone regeneration research at Emory University and Georgia Tech, Sutha believes that his work in biomedical engineering ties in with his transplant surgery.

"I was fortunate enough to receive a living donor kidney from my dad, but in Georgia alone, there are more than 1,950 people waiting for a transplant, and someone to give the gift of life," says Sutha. "I want people to know that transplants work and I am a success story. I'm doing well and leading a normal life. In fact I'm doing more now than I would otherwise."

2 comments:

Dave said...

Over half of the 99,000 Americans on the national transplant waiting list will die before they get a transplant. Most of these deaths are needless. Americans bury or cremate about 20,000 transplantable organs every year. Over 6,000 of our neighbors suffer and die needlessly every year as a result.

There is a simple way to put a big dent in the organ shortage -- give organs first to people who have agreed to donate their own organs when they die.

Giving organs first to organ donors will convince more people to register as organ donors. It will also make the organ allocation system fairer. People who aren't willing to share the gift of life should go to the back of the waiting list as long as there is a shortage of organs.

Anyone who wants to donate their organs to others who have agreed to donate theirs can join LifeSharers. LifeSharers is a non-profit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other organ donors when they die. Membership is free at www.lifesharers.org or by calling 1-888-ORGAN88. There is no age limit, parents can enroll their minor children, and no one is excluded due to any pre-existing medical condition.

Ken said...

oh wow. i just came across this while doing a google search for myself (haha). thanks for sharing my story and for your well wishes!

ken