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Stories of Triumph, World Transplant Games 2019 episode 10 – Day 5 Athletics and Agony

Stories of Triumph, World Transplant Games 2019 episode 10 – Day 5 Athletics and Agony

Fatigue sets in on Day 5 of the 2019 World Transplant Games. The participants, supporters, volunteers, sports management staff take deep breaths and push through. Today was a day of athletics and agony for me personally but it was a magical day for the World Transplant Games 2019 in NewcastleGateshead in the United Kingdom. Athletes from approximately 50 countries participated in the track and field events and while the obvious action was on the field at Gateshead International Stadium, much of the action for the athletes takes place behind the scenes.

“Behind the scenes” in this stadium are multi-use courts behind and underneath the stadium seats. Opening the door to this space is like walking onto a movie set with multiple people working to pull off an event with more than 1,000 people. The first thing you see walking in are rows of massage tables where volunteer physical therapists, also called physiotherapists (physios), in yellow shirts seemingly work around the clock with permanent cheery attitudes on athletes’ muscles. To the right of the row of massage tables scores of blue-shirt wearing officials line up competitors for each event. Finally, behind a large partition athletes warm up on a basketball court doing various leg kicks, stretches, and sprints. It is on this basketball court where the majority of the athletes’ competition time takes place. While athletes size each other up, they also hug each other, happy that after two more years they are both alive and well and that transplants from their donors are still working. The time transplant athletes spend with each other represent just a few minutes in their actual time on earth, but the memories generated in these moments will be replayed and celebrated for the rest of their lives.

In my case, I was happy to see a person I call my brother from another great-great-great-great-great grandmother Stephen Jarvis who ended up Male Transplant Athlete for 2019. Stephen has an Olympian’s talent for athletics which is matched by his love for competition and competitors. And when Stephen departs to check in for one of his many events, athletes from Germany, Colombia, and Thailand jog by proudly showing off their greatest prize: Life.

My only goal for today is to run the 4*100 meter relay race. A relay race consists of four runners each of whom run only 100 meters (hence 4*100) to go once around the track. They use a baton to signal their connection with Newcastle’s bridges as the backdrop. Each bridge was built to connect humans with each other. Modern phones and apps are simply bridges in a new era and transplantation is the ultimate human bridge. I was looking forward to stretching out my arms twice while running the second leg of the relay with a double-lung, heart, and liver transplant recipient. Win or lose, the goal was simply to get on the track and run with my teammates and against others. But destiny had other plans. Agony today was delivered in absence. One of the four people who were supposed to run simply didn’t show up. These moments that are so pregnant in possibility are simply abandoned with one word to the race officials “scratch.” The person who decided not to show up to run with his teammates with unfortunately be remembered in a negative light. Of all the mishaps, I only became angry once and that’s when my teammate didn’t show up. Not having a teammate not show up feels like even more of a betrayal at the World Transplant Games that are full of community and support but unplanned events and having no control over circumstances are part of every recipient’s life. It’s dark.

The light, however, are other humans who shine. Immediately our female teammates began searching the stadium and sending out multiple messages to find a replacement. While ultimately unsuccessful, the deep sympathy shown by our teammates is a memory I will equally remember.

The near-end of the Games brings mental, physical, and spiritual fatigue and yet every volunteer like every donor family, doctor, nurse, healthcare professional and friend simply takes a deep breath and continues walking through the agony to find the athlete inside them. 

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Stories of Triumph, World Transplant Games 2019 episode 09 – Day 4 Swimming, Friends, Changes

Stories of Triumph, World Transplant Games 2019 episode 09 – Day 4 Swimming, Friends, Changes

Listen to the Podcast – Stories of Triumph, World Transplant Games 2019 episode 09 – Day 4 Swimming, Friends, Changes

Waking up today was bound to be less dramatic. Though I slept well, I woke up early and decided to eat breakfast twice before going to the swimming events to support transplant swimmers from around the world. Though I had slight pang about not swimming this year, I was happy to see athletes from an estimated 40 countries compete. The United Kingdom’s Liam Barnett had a fantastic day but so too did American swimmers, a Mexican swimmer, Argentinians, Hungarians, Australians, Turkish, Germans, and many others.

World Transplant Games 2019 Swimming


Swimming brings out the most competitive and compassionate of transplant athletes who freely mingle and share food items as they sit in an arena-sized sauna together. Swimming meets take on a never-ending quality. By sitting for hours with water sounds people are gently compelled into a meditative trance punctured by bursts slapping water hitting their faces. Bits of bodies appear above water and pass the spectators eye in a slow blur; some less slow than others. The distortion of the sight and sound means that a hole in the ground with water in it becomes a Star Trek transporter to another world.

And that summarizes the Games: Creating a new world.

At the Games, the stories’ molecules dissolve into the day. A young swimmer from the United States who has a background in gymnastics powered her arms and legs with the efficiency of lawn mower, propelling her forward stroke-by-stoke. She’s had a lung transplant. A Mexican swimmer with Lupus hurts her arm during the 400-meter swim and tells the life guards to go ahead in order to finish. She had a kidney transplant. A German man pushes to win the gold in the virtual triathlon. He had a heart transplant. A South African boy who has never been out of the country jumps in the pool with people faraway from home and immediately become his closest friends. He had a liver transplant.

After swimming, I met six interviewees of Organ Oracles, Stories of Triumph (see featured image of pic) including Elmar Sprink (Germany), Lloyd  Tucker (USA), Holly Miyagawa (USA), Tim Hartman (Netherlands), Tamaryn Stevens (Australia), and Anders Billström (Sweden).

Six of the Fourteen Organ Oracles Season One Interviewees (2019) at the World Transplant Games


I’ve also been able to meet

In the evening, the General Assembly for the World Transplant Games Federation took place. There were excellent reports on the Federation’s 2020 Winter World Transplant Games in Banff, Alberta Canada organized by Niva Segatto a major force in Canadian Transplantation, FitForLife, Re-FitForLife, and the 2021 World Transplant Games in Houston organized by the Houston Harris County Sports Authority, the highlight of the night was the election in which two new people were elected while two board members’ terms came to an end. It is bittersweet to see excellent people move on and new people come into the board but like the sounds and sights from the pool, friendship and molecules mix and the World Transplant Games goes on.

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OZ-Magical Stories-01-Secundaria 38

OZ-Magical Stories-01-Secundaria 38

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OZ: magical stories from enchanting places, observations of Dr. Z. That’s me!

Pictures from Dr. Z’s presentation


OZ: cuentos mágicos de tierras imaginarias, observaciones de Dr. Z


Transcript (en español y in English)


Hola, Hola

Este programa se llama OZ – cuentos mágicos de tierras imaginarias, observaciones de Dr. Z

Este es el Dr. Z, Zachary Brooks, Dr. Z en inglés y uso Zacarías en español.

Este podcast hoy es para los estudiantes, maestros, y administradores de la Secundaria 38 en Heroica, Nogales, Sonora, Mexico.

Su edificio ubica 1,400 metros de la frontera de los Estados Unidos en los cerros de Nogales. El demadre de la linea esta muuuuuuuuy lejos de la escuela y los estudiantes dedicados en la Secundaria 38.

Aquí hay estudiantes y sus maestros que preparanles para ser el futuro de México. Aunque están muuuuuuy lejos de CDMX, tienen más conocimiento de problemas geopoliticas del mundo y por eso están pensando en su futuros como dipomatos de México, como enfermeras, y como ingenieros.

Cualquier circumstancias del momento existen en el momento los estudiantes de la Secundaria 38 buscan y trabajan para sus desarrollando sueños.

En mis ponecias hablé sobre          . Cubrimos tres temas.

PRIMERO … la diferencia entre las definiciones de pasivo y activo

SEGUNDO … la diferencia entre las definiciones de leer y escribir

TERCERO … la diferencia entre la recepcion y la produccion

El concepto es así:

para estar alfabetizado necesitamos no solamete ser pasivo en acciones y consumir los productos, los servicos, y los apps que nos están siendo alimentados

para estar alfabetizado necesitamos ser activo en acciones y producir los productos, los servicos, y los apps para mejorar nuestras vidas, día a día, poco a poco


Hello, Hello

This is Dr. Z, Zachary Brooks, and this show is called OZ: magical stories from enchanting places, observations of Dr. Z, that’s me.

On Thursday, June 20th, I was invited to give two talks to the Secundaria 38 (Middle School #38) in Heroica, Nogales, Sonora which is about 1-mile from the United States-Mexico border.

The talks were on 21st literacy and the importance of producing content in order to be literate about what people read, see, and hear in written, visual, and audio formats.

I talked to roughly 100 students ages 11-13 who will see the end of the 21st century and whose grandkids will define literacy based on the choices the students now make.

The takeaways are that the students are passionate about their world and aware consciously or not about the increase in suicides among the world’s youth, the climate crisis given to them by their grand-parents and great-grandparents, and a group who is very aware of lies that permeate.

Their dedicated instructors give them all the support in the world yet there is still much to do.

It was a privilege to see dedicated teachers, students, and administrators in action with our neighbors, Mexico and eat incredible tacos a Patron!


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