World Transplant Games: Kiwis using second chance at life to compete on world stage

Sixteen Kiwis who have gone through transplant surgery will soon use their second chance at life to compete on the world stage. 

April's World Transplant Games will take place at Perth, giving amateur athletes a chance to live out their sporting dreams.

Jane Donnelly got back on the bike as quickly as she could after receiving a life-saving liver transplant.

"There was only about a 20 percent chance that I would come off the operating theatre alive," she said.

She didn't just survive - she thrived. 

"I wanted to carry on like as a normal person so that was kinda like my inspiration," Donnelly said.

Spotting a magazine promoting the World Transplant Games was all the motivation she needed, before winning two golds at the 2019 edition in England.

"When I came home, it was always like I'm going back to the next Transplant Games because I just want to win back-to-back golds again," Donnelly said.

The 2021 event in the US was canned due to COVID-19, but 16 Kiwis will head to the Perth Games in April.

"Most common transplants are kidneys, liver, lungs, hearts, pancreas, also stomach transplants," NZ Transplant Games Association vice-president Laurence Smith said.

Smith received a kidney from his brother 10 years ago.

"Ultimately I was down to about 7 percent function, I was getting very tired," he revealed.

He's made the most of his second chance, picking up the racquet for squash, as well as tennis. Although, he'll need a better training partner in the lead-up to the Games.

"Yeah for me, it was a very easy decision to keep playing sport, I guess what changes is it's not so much about the competitiveness anymore," Smith said.

Instead, making the most of being able to serve it up again.

"Part of life after transplant is really looking after yourself and sport is a way to do that," Smith said.