Team Michigan heads to San Diego for the Donate Life Transplant Games

Transplant athlete signs Transplant Games of America flag
Camaraderie, fellowship highlight biennual competition for transplant recipients

Mike Roman of Berkley admits he probably shouldn’t go to the Donate Life Transplant Games this year. But the 65-year-old heart recipient said the draw of attending in person again – after Covid forced a virtual platform – was too great to resist, despite his declining health.

“When you go once, you’ll never want to not go again,” said Mike, who is now waiting for a new kidney.

Two women from Team Michigan sign their names to the Transplant Games of America flagRoman planned to be in San Diego this week with more than 60 other transplant recipients, living donors, caregivers and donor family members from Michigan to participate in the Games. “The Games are a unique opportunity to celebrate life, for recipients to show their return to health and to show what the miracle of transplantation can do for people, and at the same time honor the donor families and living donors,” said Bill Ryan, president and CEO of the Transplant Life Foundation. Founded in 2011, the Grand Rapids-based foundation organizes the Games every two years.

“We’re excited that Team Michigan has once again put together a magnificent team,” Bill added. “It’s grown in size and scope over the years. It’s a tribute to their leadership. We think it’s one of the finest of the teams in the country.”

Team Michigan is participating in more than 20 competitions and 60 special events through Wednesday, Aug. 3 to celebrate the transplant community. Competitions range from pickleball to golf and tennis, basketball, track and field events, Zumba, poker, cornhole, bowling, badminton, and much more. There are also quilt-pinning ceremonies, a parade, workshops, and an expo designed to promote organ and tissue donation and celebrate recipients and donors.

“It’s a fantastic, inspiring, life-changing experience,” said Joyce Jensen of Byron Center. She attended the Games in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 2018. “You just feel like you’re with people who understand transplant, meeting donor families. It’s part of your peace.”

Tucker Schumacher, who received a new liver recipient as an infant 28 years ago, agrees. He is going to take part in the golf and basketball competitions.

“I’m going to play them; I don’t know if I’ll compete,” the Grand Blanc man joked.

Marge Del Greco of West Bloomfield co-manages Team Michigan.

She said the Games help recipients celebrate their health, honor donors and their families, and educate the public about the need for registered organ donors. In Michigan, about 2,400 people are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. There are about 106,000 waiting across the country.

“It gives us a chance to put organ and tissue donation in the spotlight,” said Marge, a two-time liver recipient.

For more information about the Transplant Games visit transplantgamesofamerica.org

To sign up as an organ, eye and tissue donor visit golm.org/register.

Group photo of Team Michigan holding up the autographed Transplant Games of America flag

Read more in the Gift of LifeLINES newsletter

Read More Posts
Donor Mother Teena Smith (left) and heart recipient Sharon Culbreath.

“It’s like I have a new family now”

Michigan woman meets son’s heart recipient Two years after her son died, Teena Smith heard…

Read More
Senator Kevin Daly stands at a podium in front of a Check Your Heart banner on the Michigan Capitol steps

Gift of Life Michigan calls for action as Michigan Organ Donor Registry grows at the slowest pace since its founding

About 2,400 patients are waiting in Michigan this month for a life-saving organ transplant. The…

Read More
Elderly woman smiling at the camera from behind a large bouquet of flowers

Family grateful for 101-year-old mother’s legacy as tissue donor

“I’m just proud she was able to do that”  Bert Steck was surprised to learn…

Read More
woman smiling at camera

Staff Spotlight: For a decade, Stephanie Sommer has been the face of Gift of Life for MEs and funeral homes

Stephanie Sommer has visited more medical examiner offices in Michigan than most medical examiners. And…

Read More
A woman with long brunette hair in a white dress and a man in a blue shirt and khakis stand arm-in-arm

Tracy and Holly: a Love Story

Tracy Gary and Holly Werlein-Gary almost never met, but fate and transplantation intervened. They both…

Read More
Michigan Department of Natural Resources logo

Gift of Life Michigan, DNR team up to save lives

New partnership will ask hunters, anglers to ‘Check Your Heart’ Hunters and anglers in Michigan…

Read More
Scroll to Top