Liver transplant recipient and Westfield resident Matthew Felix will join more than 20 others from New Jersey at this year’s Transplant Games, which celebrates the life-saving value of organ and tissue donation.
The 2014 Transplant Games of America will be in Houston July 11-15.
For 20 years, Matt lived with primary sclerosing cholangitis, or PSC, the same liver condition that killed pro football great Walter Payton. In 2012, Matt’s college friend of 30 years, Pat Kacani, donated a portion of his liver to Matt. Both Matt and Pat will head to the Transplant Games as a part of Team Liberty.
“So far it’s been a very positive thing for both of us,” said Matt. “As soon as this happened, the thing that hits you square in the face is that organ donation is incredibly important. Be aware that there may be instances in your life where you have an opportunity to pay it forward and step up. If everybody approached it the way Pat did, the waiting list for organs would be a lot shorter.”
The Transplant Games of America is a multi-sport festival event that highlights the critical importance of organ, eye and tissue donation. Transplant recipients, living donors and donor families come together to honor those who gave the gift of life; and to celebrate those who received a second chance at life.
Team Liberty, a program of NJ Sharing Network, the non-profit organization responsible for recovering organs and tissue in Central and Northern New Jersey, comes together at the Transplant Games of America, and year round, to promote the success of organ transplantation, and to raise awareness for the urgent need of organ and tissue donation. Nearly 5,000 people in New Jersey are waiting for life-saving organs.
Team Liberty honors the legacy and generosity of donors and their families. They come from New York City, Long Island, the Hudson Valley, Northern and Central New Jersey, and Fairfield County, Connecticut. The men, women, and children of Team Liberty embody incredible spirit, courage, energy, inspiration, humor, sportsmanship, and friendship, just to name a few.