TORONTO—Kinga Casson of Little Current participated in the Canadian Transplant Games earlier this month, bringing home five medals and making memories that will last a lifetime.
“I found out about the Canadian Transplant Games through different people I met while I was at Toronto General Hospital when I was getting my transplant,” shared Ms. Casson. “When I was there (Toronto General) the organizers were having a big promotional event for the games and I found out some more about it.”
Ms. Casson connected with a friend she had made online who had undergone a heart transplant around the same time as Ms. Casson had her kidney transplant.
“Emily (Ritson) and I hadn’t met in person so we decided to participate in the games together,” she said. “We were roommates for the week. We have been through similar situations and it was nice to be able to share the experience of the games with her.”
The 23-year-old participated in the 3km race-walk with Ms. Ritson, in addition to competing in the 200 meter run, 100 meter race, long jump and shot put.
“I wanted to re-live my high school track and field days,” laughed Ms. Casson. “I was very pleased to place in every event and brought home four gold medals and a silver. In the 100m race there were only three of us and one of the girls had undergone a multi-organ transplant so we all just jogged the race together in support of her.”
During her week Ms. Casson met members of the Toronto Blue Jays and also met Ashlee Simpson and her husband Evan Ross on her flight home to Sudbury.
Despite her celebrity sightings, she said that her favourite part of the week was connecting with other organ transplant recipients.
“It was nice to be able to talk with other people who understand what it’s like to have undergone an organ transplant,” said Ms. Casson. “I found common bonds with a lot of people and it was nice to talk about medicine side effects and other things that most people wouldn’t get. I made some life-long friendships.”
Ms. Casson’s family came to support her in the games, including her mother Anne Casson, who was Kinga’s kidney donor.
At age 16 Ms. Casson was diagnosed with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGC) and by the end of high school she only had 50 to 60 percent kidney function. At 19, and in her first year of college, Ms. Casson became pregnant and went through with the pregnancy despite the danger that it could have presented to her health. Two weeks prior to her son Jack being born, her kidneys began to fail and she had to be hospitalized—her kidney function dropping to 15 percent.
Ms. Casson started dialysis and was put on the transplant list, which was a three to four week wait.
Although it was a long shot, Ms. Casson’s adoptive mother Anne decided to get tested as a possible kidney donor and was found to be a match. The match was extremely rare as the two aren’t blood related and Anne was able to give this precious gift to her daughter.
“I am a huge advocate for organ donation,” said Ms. Casson. “It is so important that everyone be one.”
She noted that one organ donor can save up to eight or nine lives and that there are roughly 1,500 people waiting for organs and about a third of those people die while waiting.
Ms. Casson and her son Jack are happy and enjoying life living in Little Current. She hopes to participate in the 2017 World Transplant Games being held in Spain.
Since 2000, the Canadian Transplant Games have been a showcase where organ transplant recipients from across the country come together to enjoy competition and camaraderie while celebrating a second chance at life. Held every two years, the games are a family oriented event. This year marked the first games where donors could also participate.
To learn more about becoming an organ donor, visit beadonor.ca.