There’s just one more week to go before the start of the games and two of our very own Team Maryland members, Bill Neumann and Olivia Strama, will be featured on the Fox 45 News at 10pm tonight. Here’s a preview of their stories:
I am the youngest of four children, all of whom had inherited Juvenile Medullary Cystic kidney disease. The disease claimed the life of my mother and grandmother at early ages and ultimately my three siblings as well.
I have lost my two bothers to the disease, one while awaiting a transplant and the other lead a rather full life after receive three transplants. I was very fortunate to receive a kidney from my uncle at age 13 and now, at age 50, have had his successfully transplanted kidney for 37 years.
I remember going to see the doctors when I entered high school a couple of years after my transplant and asking them if it would be okay if I joined the track team. I was always competitive and wanted so much just to be on a team – any team. They looked at each other with confused looks not knowing how to respond. It seemed no one had ever asked such a question before. All I got was a long “Ummm? That might be alright?” The doctors finally allowed me to take part, but with some “restrictions,” and my coach was instructed to keep an eye on me.
I walked out of the hospital in 1973 and since then have only spent the night in a hospital twice: once when my son was born, and then again after injuring my arm after a cycling crash. You may have noticed neither of those times involved me having any sort of renal issues. Everything else in my life has been, as the saying goes, “gravy.”
I can honestly say almost my entire life’s success is because of my transplant and not having to be tethered to a dialysis machine. I played sports in high school, went on to put myself through engineering school and later earned an M.B.A. I’ve had a successful career and started a family. Looking back, I recognize my transplant has definitely helped me in my successes. I tried that much harder because I didn’t want to waste the second chance I was given.
Bill is a returning athlete in the 2010 NKF U.S. Transplant Games. He will be participating in 5K cycling, 20K cycling and volleyball.
After she broke out in a rash and started having trouble breathing one day, four-month-old Olivia Strama was rushed to the hospital. Upon being examined and transferred to University of Maryland Medical Center, Amanda and Alex Strama, Olivia’s parents, learned the left side of Olivia’s heart was failing and her only option was a heart transplant.
Olivia was transferred to The Johns Hopkins Children’s Hospital to be placed on a machine that would oxygenate and filter her blood, a function her heart and lungs could no longer do on their own. The machine would help keep Olivia alive long enough to receive a heart transplant. On the way to the hospital, Olivia went into cardiac arrest. Her heart stopped beating for two minutes. Doctors were able to revive Olivia’s heart, but her prognosis was not good without a transplant.
Olivia’s unstable condition placed her high on the waiting list. Olivia’s parents, family and friends anxiously sat and hoped for a miracle, and a miracle was what they got. The same night Olivia was placed on the transplant list, a perfect match became available.
Thanks to her heart transplant, Olivia, now three years old, is able to enjoy the things every three-year-old gets to enjoy; and the love and gratitude the Stramas have for Olivia’s heart donor is written all over their faces every time they look at their happy, healthy little girl.
We are proud to have Olivia as a new addition to Team Maryland this year. She will be competing in the 25 meter run, the long jump, and the softball throw.
We look forward to cheering Bill and Olivia on as they compete and wish them, along with all of our Team Maryland members lots of luck!
See you in Madison!
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