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Ken Sutha and his Dad

The Gift of Life

My name is Ken Sutha, and two years ago, at the age of 24, I received a kidney transplant from my dad.  Since the surgery, I’ve been doing very well, and so to celebrate that and to help raise awareness about organ donation, I’ve decided to compete this summer at the U.S. Transplant Games, an Olympic-style competition for people like me who have received transplants.  In July, I’ll be traveling to Pittsburgh to participate in the Games as a part of Team Georgia.  This will be my first time attending and competing at the Transplant Games, and I couldn’t be more excited!  I decided to compete in swimming, despite a complete lack of experience with the sport, because I knew it would be the best for my fitness and health in the long run.

To prepare myself, I joined USMS through the Georgia LMSC, and I’ve been hard at work since January, training and getting myself into shape with the help of the Atlanta Rainbow Trout.  My main goal is to compete in the 100 meter individual medley.  As part of my training, I’ve been working on building up my endurance and improving my form in each stroke (or in the case of butterfly, learning the stroke).  It has been hard starting pretty much from scratch with regard to competitive swimming (and exercise in general), but so far, the practice seems to be paying off!  Joining a Masters team has not only provided me with the technical help and structure that I needed as someone new to the water but also with the support and motivation of my fellow teammates, and I couldn’t be doing this without them.  In addition to the medley event, I am swimming a 100 meter backstroke and a 50 meter breaststroke.  At the Games, I’ll also be competing in the 1,500 meter race walk.

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 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.  It’s the unfortunate reality that right now we can’t cure things like cancer or AIDS, but every person has the power TODAY to make a decision that could save the lives of many people.  For more information, you can go to www.organdonor.gov.  No matter what you decide for yourself, talk to your family members and loved ones about organ donation so that they know your wishes and you know theirs.

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