Heart recipient, Brian Barndt of Wake Forest, North Carolina, has returned from Malága, Spain, where he represented Team USA in the 21st World Transplant Games for the second time. This month also marks 12 years since Barndt received his life-saving transplant. Prior to his transplant, Barndt lived with cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure and atrial fibrillation for 15 years.
The World Transplant Games is an international sporting event for transplant athletes. Held every two years, the 8-day multisport event demonstrates the power of donation and showcases the ability of transplant recipients to lead healthy, normal lives. It also aims to enhance the understanding and acceptance of organ donation; the Games attract approximately 2,500 participants from over 55 nations.
Having been awarded a combined 20 medals, Barndt has previously competed in the World Transplant Games as well as the Transplant Games of America. He became the first heart recipient ever to complete the 1.5-mile swim in San Francisco Bay at the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon.
“My goal is to display the amazing success of organ transplantation, and bring passion to the cause of organ donation in America and across the globe,” says Barndt. “Every medal I receive or finish line I cross represents the miraculous success of transplantation.” Barndt also says that while he feels great joy in competing and achieving great feats, his greatest honor is in saying thank you to donor families for the heroic gift of life given by donors.
Barndt’s participation in events such as the World Transplant Games sheds lights on the critical need for organ donation. Nearly 118,000 people are currently on the waiting list in the United States and approximately 3,000 North Carolinians are waiting for a second chance at life. Sadly, 20 people die every day due to the lack of available organs.
“A single donor can save or enhance the lives of more than 50 people through organ, eye and tissue donation,” said Dawn Hall, Director of Communications and Marketing at Carolina Donor Services. “Please give hope to those waiting by registering today as an organ, eye and tissue donor online at DonateLifeNC.org/Register and take time to share your decision with your family.”