CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The 2016 Transplant Games open today here in Cleveland. Hundreds of athletes are taking part. It's a celebration of life bringing together living organ donors, organ donor families and transplant survivors.
So many amazing stories are coming out of it, like that of 16-year-old Zach McGregor. He's developed quite a bond with his doctor and several of the nurses and staff members at Cleveland Clinic Children's. There's high-fives and hugs every time he comes back for tests, which is often.
"He's a miracle, he's a walking miracle," says transplant nurse Colleen Nasman.
Now, he's a miracle. Everyone who knows him is so excited to celebrate as he gets ready to compete in golf in the Transplant Games.
"I figured I liked it a lot and figured I'm really good at it so I figured I'm going to stick with this sport," Zach says.
There are happy days now, but just the day after he was born it was discovered something was very wrong.
"Zach was born with one of the most lethal forms of heart disease," says Zach's pediatric cardiologist Dr. Gerard Boyle, M.D. It was a condition, he explains, is very difficult to treat with surgery, which made a heart transplant his only real chance.
Zach's mom, Jennifer Reed, remembers how agonizing the wait was, how sick her baby was -- but finally just after his second birthday, it would happen. A donor heart became available.
"Mixed emotions," she says "...you are happy because the day is here, but, you're sad because you know another parent is grieving...and there's the unknown."
Zach recovered quickly though, says he feel great and is quick to understand and appreciate just how blessed he is.
"I'm just glad to have a second chance at life and can keep doing what I'm doing," Zach says. That includes giving back by giving it his all, exactly what he plans on doing at the Games.
"It's fun for him and fun for me as a parent to watch," Reed says. "It also gets the word out for organ donation. I wouldn't have my son if it weren't for organ donation."
The doctor says his prognosis is great, just like it sounds like his golf swing is. He competes on Monday at Quail Hollow in Lake County.
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