A team of University of Washington Medical Center staff and faculty, transplant recipients and donor family members will run and walk as part of the Seattle Marathon on Nov. 25.
The team was organized by Alysun Deckert, clinical dietician at UW Medical Center who works primarily with liver, kidney and pancreas transplant patients.
“I thought it would be fun to promote fitness among transplant recipients and in the workplace,” said Deckert. “We are promoting organ donation by showing that transplant recipients can lead active, vital lives even after transplant.”
About 40 people will participate in Team Transplant, either running or walking the 13.1 mile half marathon planned as part of the annual Seattle Marathon, which begins and ends at Seattle Center. At least eight UWMC transplant recipients are expected to take part, Deckert said.
Among them is Tami Sadusky, who works in UW Grants and Contracts Accounting and received a kidney and pancreas transplant at UWMC eight years ago. Sadusky was critically ill at the time after having type 1 diabetes for 20 years.
“One of my goals for the future is to help promote organ donor awareness,” Sadusky said. “Helping people to understand the process of organ donation and the importance of the program may save many lives over time.
“Knowing that the transplant recipients in this race would not have been able to participate had it not been for an organ transplant shows just how important the ‘gift of life’ can be.”
The team began training weekly on Saturday mornings in August, under the tutelage of Deckert, an experienced runner who competed in the Olympic women’s marathon trials.
“Everybody feels good about what they are doing,” Deckert said. “This is turning out to be a quality improvement project for me and my patients, helping them build fitness following their transplants.”
Dave Long, whose late son’s organs were donated through Life Center Northwest, will also participate. Life Center is the organization that handles organ donation and procurement for the region.
Long’s son died at age 16 following an accident. His heart, kidney, pancreas and other organs gave life to several critically ill patients.
“A friend of mine who was a liver transplant recipient here asked me if I wanted to be a part of this,” Long said. “It’s been great for me to get to know these people who are alive today because of organ donation. Anything we can do to raise awareness of organ donation is a good thing.”
More information about the Seattle Marathon is available at http://www.seattlemarathon.org.