World Transplant Olympics 2015, Argentina, Black and White { 46 images } Created 16 Sep 2015

The shifting shapes of tango dancers twist across the wooden floor. In the winter air a spotlight illuminates their breath, before it disappears into the dark. The crowd stands wrapped in hats and scarves, waving flowers and banners. A Mexican wave circles the old, concrete stadium, and locals bang out a booming rhythm on giant drums. The 20th World Transplant Olympics are declared open in Mar del Plata, Argentina.

The Texas Children’s Hospital team sits high in the stalls, with the rest of United States athletes, reacquainting with old friends, catching up. Athletes and organ transplant recipients, side by side with their physicians, supporters, and family. Infant athletes swap souvenirs with seniors, backgrounds are explained, and medical conditions discussed. Lifelong relationships are cemented here, and the roles of a surrogate family are adopted.

This year athletes from seventy countries have joined the World Transplant Olympics, with emphasis placed organ transplantation, as well as athletic achievement. During this weeklong event, stories of kidney, lung, heart, bone marrow, and liver transplants are the norm.

Athletes are united in their present and past situations. All have suffered severe injury or illness leading to the failure of vital organs - bacterial meningitis, cancer, heart disease, and liver problems. All have waited on various life support machines, and medication for a matching donor, with time running out and no certainty of success.
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