Kiwi athletes ready for World Transplant Games

Some special athletes are heading to Australia next week to take part in an inspirational sporting event.

They've been training hard on the track and in the pool, and to look at them, you'd never know it but they're transplant recipients.

Just a week out from the start of the Australian Transplant Games and Palmerston North athlete Matt Field just hit his personal best in the high jump.

It's a tall feat for anyone, but in 2009 Matt Field was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease called ING neuropathy which attacks the kidneys, leaving him in need of a transplant.

"Three years later it progressed that quickly that I needed dialysis and was in complete renal failure," Mr Field said.

His sister, Ruth, was a match and donated one of her kidneys.

"I was just trying to survive but she's been amazing, it's meant the world, just a second chance and I can't thank her enough."

Five years on he's showing his gratitude by showing what he can now do at the Transplant Games. 

He's already won medals, including gold in the long jump at last year's World Transplant Games in Spain.

At this year's Australian Games he's competing in the 100m, 200m and 400m sprints as well as long jump and high jump.

Organ Donation New Zealand clinical director Dr Stephen Streat says it shows how transformative transplantation is for recipients.

"These people have a quality of life that they may not have had for many years before their transplant and after their transplant that do what everyone should do and that is celebrate life to the full," he said.

Kristie Purton is taking part for the first time. Born with cystic fibrosis, her lung capacity deteriorated to 17 percent.

"It kind of makes you feel like you're suffocating just when you do daily activities," Ms Purton said, "I've got children so just running around after them you can't breathe and have panic attacks."

She had a lung transplant just over a year ago, and despite a few health setbacks, the former swimming instructor has been training at Liz van Welie Aquatics in Tauranga, determined to compete in honour of her donor.

"From 50m freestyle, up to 400m and threw in butterfly for a bit of fun and then a triathlon and a cycle and a run," she said.

"I really want to go and win that medal and have that medal in memory of them but we'll see how we go, if not, I'll definitely try again for next year when I'm even better."

They said, medals or not, it's the taking part that counts, raising awareness of organ donation and celebrating the incredible gift of life given by donors and their families.