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Celebration of life – World Transplant Games 2019 becomes a watershed in Indian sport as participants come back with record 6 medals

So many surprises await in a lifetime; hence ‘Carpe Diem’.

As the future is unknown, we must seize the present. That is exactly what 14 fearless Indians did to celebrate their life and time.

The World Transplant Games, a competition recognized by the International Olympic Committee, brings together organ and transplant recipients and donors around the world every two years, to offer athletes a unique opportunity to represent their nations. This year, India had sent a 15-member contingent to the World Transplant Games held at Newcastle in England.

Reena Raju

The increasing awareness about organ donation in India is replicated in the record number of participants in this year’s World Transplant Games.  Indian team included eleven organ recipients and three donors along with team manager Reena Raju from Karnataka who is a double heart recipient. Reena got her first heart transplanted in 2009. But after eight years her donor heart malfunctioned. Hence, in 2017 Reena received her second heart and within some months she became the first Indian female organ recipient to participate in the World Transplant Games at Malaga in Spain.

Arjun and Anil Srivatsa

This year India finished with six medals among which three are gold and three are silver. The sibling duo of Arjun Srivatsa and Anil Srivatsa contributed to the India’s golden tally. While Arjun Srivatsa won gold in Golf, Anil Srivatsa bagged the yellow metal in Ball Throw. In 2014, Anil donated one of his kidneys to his brother, Arjun. Since then both have been promoting organ donation worldwide. This is the first time the brothers had participated in Transplant Games. Anil Srivatsa took part in both Throw Ball and 100m Race.

Balveer Singh on the podium with India Flag

The most decorated Indian participant in the World Transplant Games was Balveer Singh, gold medallist in Badminton in 2015 and 2017. Balveer participated in the 2015 Games and teamed up with Dhamendra Soti to win the doubles gold. He won the singles gold in the 2017. This time he bagged a silver medal in his favourite sport that helped him to regain fitness and mental stamina after his kidney transplant in 2011.

In 2011, Digvijay Gujral underwent a kidney transplant who had a non-functional right kidney from the age of one. Some years later it was found that Digvijay’s left kidney was also damaged. After his transplant, Digvijay started to work out and developed for himself a well-chiseled body. In this year’s Games, he participated in Squash, Badminton, Relay and Shotput and won silver in Squash.

Digvijay Gujral (Right) and Ankita Shrivastava (Middle)

Ankita Shrivastava can be regarded as the star of this year’s Games. She won two medals- gold in Long Jump and silver in 100mt Race. Ankita donated her liver to her mother when she was just 21. In spite of the transplant her mother died and she herself was confined to wheelchair for some months after the operation. But Ankita came back strongly as a sportsman is always a sportsman. In the World Transplant Games, she competed in Road Race, 1,000m race, Ball Throw and Long Jump.

The other nine participants might not win a medal. But their sheer presence enhanced the strength of the Indian contingent. Let us look at the other Indian participants in World Transplant Games 2019.

Amar Nath Tanwar, who received his mother’s kidney in 2012, won two silver medals in 2016 Australian Transplant Games. In this year’s Games he participated in Badminton, Road Race and Relay.

Vishu Nair underwent a kidney transplant in 2007 after his mother donated the organ to him. Vishu also underwent a Cochlear Implant for his hearing loss. In this Games he participated in 5000mt Race Walk.

Kishore Suryavanshi participated in sprint events in the World Transplant Games. He was under dialysis after his kidney malfunctioned and underwent a transplant in 2006. Presently, Kishore and his wife, who is also a kidney recipient, run an NGO to counsel people on transplant.

Karhun Nanda fought back from death when he went into coma after a severe heart attack. A heart transplant gave back his life but the risk happens to be there. In 2016 he underwent heart surgery and in these three years he did his best to keep himself safe. Karhun pursued Golf which has a low cardio impact and has done well for himself. In World Transplant Games Karhun Nanda represented the country in Golf.

Davis Jose Kollannur won silver medal in Badminton in 2011 and 2013 World Transplant Games. But before that he already had a kidney transplant. Davis took to Badminton to keep himself healthy and fit. But in 2014, he was diagnosed with leukemia. Repetitive chemotherapy damaged his transplanted kidney and so he had to undergo his second transplant in 2016. In 2019 World Transplant Games, Davis Jose Kollannur participated in Badminton. Though he returned without a medal, still he was a source of great inspiration to the fellow participants.

Raghavendra Nagaraj took to regular walking after his kidney transplant in 2010. In the World Games, Nagraj took part in Walking and Race.

Praveen Kumar Rattan and Roopa Arora was the perfect couple in this year’s World Games. Praveen was gifted a liver by his wife in 2011 when he was diagnosed with end-stage liver disease. Praveen took part in 100m Walk, 5,000m Walk, 10,000mt Cycling time trial, Ball Throw and Discus. Roopa competed in Ball Throw, 100m Race and Long Jump.

M J Sridhar represented India in Table Tennis and Badminton. He underwent a kidney transplant in 2017 but as he was a sportsman, he indulged in sports after his operation to stay fit.

About Poulomi Kundu

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