Organ donor recipient Jesse Huntley raises funds to compete in Transplant Games of America
WATERLOO (KWWL) -
Jesse Huntley began bowling when he was 5 years old. It's one of the sports he said he could still participate in with cystic fibrosis. Huntley was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when he was just 7 weeks old. His older sister died from CF before he was born.
As a child, he said he was sick a lot.
"Lot of doctors appointments a year, IV meds once or twice a year. The sicker I got, the more often it happened. Up to 4 times a year. Chest percussion where they put a vest on and shake ya," said Jesse Huntley.
Huntley said around age 14, his health deteriorated. He went through the process to get on the organ donor list for a double lung transplant, but the Mayo Clinic turned him down saying his heart was too weak.
Huntley later got a second opinion at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. He was put on the transplant list in August 2010 and got the call on November 1, 2010.
Then 29 years old, Huntley said wanting to see his young son graduate from high school is what pushed him through the worst times.
"That's what kept me alive. I was down to 12% lung function in 2010. I was in the hospital a month, go home for a couple weeks, back in the hospital a month. Sometimes function was as low as 9%," said Huntley.
About 3 and a half years after his double lung transplant, Huntley is doing well.
He's raising awareness about cystic fibrosis and organ donation. This summer, he plans to compete for team Iowa at the Transplant Games of America in Houston, Texas. Participants include transplant recipients, living donors, and donor families. This will be Huntley's first time competing in the Transplant Games. He plans to compete in darts, basketball, and bowling.
Huntley doesn't know much about his lung donor, but he's grateful to still be knocking down pins.
"All I know is Sioux City, around the same age as I was at the time," said Huntley.
He hopes his story inspires at least one person to be an organ donor and save another person's life.
About 25 Iowa athletes plus their families hope to make the trip to Houston in mid-July.
Team Iowa is looking for donations to help cover the estimated cost of $1500 per person for registration, hotel, and travel expenses.
You can find out more about Team Iowa by clicking here.
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