By Jim Melwert
HOUSTON, TX. (CBS) — Several hundred members of Team Philadelphia are competing in the Transplant Games of America in Houston, Texas today through Tuesday. Among them is kidney donor and KYW Newsradio reporter Jim Melwert.
Among the events on Saturday was a 5K through the hot streets of Houston. Running for Team Philly was Todd Stickel, who is one year out from a heart transplant.
“It was very exhausting,” he says, “but very rewarding.”
Todd was hospitalized for about a year before he got his heart.
“First of all, just being able to be out here today, one year out post transplant, it’s really a good feeling.”
And he says it’s emotional to run as part of the Transplant Games.
“There is this tingly feeling that you get sometimes, just thinking of my donor,” he says. “It just makes you warm and fuzzy inside. It’s just amazing.”
Cancer survivor and heart recipient Derek Fitzgerald also took part in the 5K. From there it was straight to the pool for a 200 Individual Medley and 500-Yard Free Style.
“I’ve been to one swim meet in my entire life, and that was the last transplant games I went to,” Fitzgerald says. “Of course, I had to have my wife Google what an individual medley was and kind of mime the strokes as I was standing on the side of the pool getting ready to dive in the water.”
As an ironman and a heart recipient, Derek inspires so many other recipients, but he says his primary goal is to encourage people to become organ donors.
“Just to prove that organ donation works,” he says. “It’s a beautiful thing, I would not be here without my organ donor, my hero.”
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