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Myron Thirtle, of Kalona, did not hesitate when he decided to donate his kidney after finding out that his father was in need of a new one. This decision has changed Thirtle’s life.
“The doctors told him he would either have to be on a wait list or find a family member who was a match,” Thirtle said. “I immediately tested to see if I was a match, and a few weeks later, I found out that I was.”
He and his father had a successful transplant surgery on Aug. 31, 2000.
After his father died a few years later from cancer, Thirtle looked for a support group.
He found an organ transplant group through the University of Iowa. The members helped him recover, and he felt comfortable being around people who also donated organs. This past April, he and others went to a living donor rally in Chicago.
“We had 438 living donors at this rally, which was the most living donors all in one place,” Thirtle said. “We are expecting to double this number in two years.”
It was through his group where he learned about the Transplant Games of America, which is a sport festival event that takes place every other year for people who have undergone transplant surgeries.
Since then, he has been competing every other year with the Iowa team.
In the past, Thirtle has competed in racquetball and bowling. This year he plans to compete in bowling again and try out swimming for a change.
So far, Thirtle has won three gold medals and two silver medals. Winning may be fun, but it was not the best part in his eyes. Thirtle said that his favorite part was listening to everyone’s stories of being organ donors.
“I now have more than 600 friends on Facebook because of how many new people I meet at the games,” he said.
Thirtle is looking forward to next year’s game as well since it will be something different. On the even-numbered years, the Transplant Games of America take place, and on the odd-numbered years, the World Transplant Games take place.
Next year Thirtle will be attending the world games, which will take place in England.
“I am very excited to go to the games in England because my father was raised there, and I have a lot of family there,” he said. “I plan to invite them to watch me in the games, and then afterward, spend some time with them.”
For now, Thirtle plans to continue to share his donor story, attend the transplant games, and get the word out as to why it is important to be a donor.