As you already read in our “Update from the 2010 NKF Transplant Games,” our PowerStudio at the NKF Transplant Games Expo was a great success, and Ana and Isa each won 3 medals at the Games! This biannual transplant extravaganza provided an unmatched opportunity for the national organ donation community to showcase its cohesive spirit, not just through athletic competitions, but also intimate gatherings. The impenetrable bond of this community lent itself to powerful cinematic moments for THE POWER OF TWO as we followed Ana and Isa through Madison on our last major shoot of the film!
The Living Donor Ceremony
The Living Donor Ceremony honors individuals that have donated organs to family members, friends, acquaintances, and even perfect strangers. Most commonly, this organ is a kidney; however parts of the lung, pancreas and liver can also come from living donors. Through this method of transplantation, organ recipients bypass the waiting list for deceased donors. (To learn more about living donation, read the National Kidney Foundation Living Donor Q&A).
On August 1, The Living Donor Ceremony overlapped National Minority Donor Awareness Day. Cynthia Puryear of the NKF Living Donor Council shared elegant remarks highlighting the urgent need for minorities to embrace organ donation. Cynthia herself is an African American woman and living donor, having donated a kidney to her mother. Puryear’s advocacy ties closely with our work in D.C. last month where THE POWER OF TWO aligned itself with Yul Kwon, Rep. Mike Honda, and other key figures in the fight to increase minority organ donation- a cause that has become central to THE POWER OF TWO.
Patches of Love
The National Kidney Foundation also honors deceased donors with a week-long display of “The Donor Quilt.” Since 2005, thousands of donor families have sewn “Patches of Love” which are raised and added to The Donor Quilt at each Transplant Games. During the Quilt Pinning Ceremony, the memory of each deceased donor becomes connected in a flowing patchwork. The visual presentation of The Donor Quilt is not only striking, but the symbolic weight of this expanding work of art and love brings an intimate face to organ donation.
That same evening, over 40 individuals from the lung transplantation community (lung transplant recipients, loved ones, and even the oldest living heart/lung recipient in the nation!) met for the Lung Gathering. Joanne Schum, the event’s organizer, received a double lung transplant after a battle with Cystic Fibrosis, just like Ana & Isa (see her Facebook group here). In addition to recipient-athletes who came to compete in the Games, a number of lung transplant recipients now suffering from chronic rejection of their lungs opened up during a two-hour round table discussion about their journey to the Games on oxygen, unable to compete but excited to be part of the festivities. This powerful show of strong will and hope reinforces transplantation as a cherished gift of life; even in the face of chronic rejection, these recipients are still zealous about life. The Transplant Games is truly an opportunity for community building and a beacon of hope to all transplant recipients.
Track & Field
While congratulating Isa for winning bronze in the women’s 4 x 100 meter relay with Team NorCal, we were also touched by the crowd’s response to the last place runners. Director/Producer Marc Smolowitz recounts, “As a film maker, it was powerful to see entire crowds with hundreds of people cheering for the last runner. There is a notion that just making it to the finish line is triumphant for a transplant recipient. The Games are not about winning or losing, but just making it to the finish line.”
Perkins Coie Reception
Perkins Coie LLC, one of our major Games sponsors, hosted a lovely event on their rooftop terrace to honor THE POWER OF TWO. Many participants from Team NorCal, Team Maryland (the team for which Ana’s “donor sister” Doni Bell competes), and other teams came to eat, drink, and mingle overlooking the elegant Capitol building.
August 3: Farewell & Closing Ceremony
After cheering on Doni Bell at the bowling lanes, we filmed Team NorCal athletes sharing personal stories about how the Games moved them.
Actor and kidney transplant recipient Ken Howard hosted the Closing Ceremonies, giving awards to outstanding athletes and key contributors from the transplant community.
As we bid farewell to Madison, Team NorCal counted 34 medals and enough hope to keep us glowing all the way back to California! We now look towards The 2011 World Transplant Games in Goteborg, Sweden, where the international scope of organ donation will manifest. Many thanks to Perkins Coie, LifeStars, California Transplant Donor Network, National Kidney Foundation, Team NorCal, and Ana & Isa for welcoming us into your Games experience. It was a week to remember!