Marina Thomas, Business Account Manager at GB in Victoria, won gold at the Australian Transplant Games held in Queensland last week.
Marina took out the gold medal for her tennis skills, but even more worthy of celebration is the remarkable journey that got her to this point.
In 1981, at just two years of age, Marina suffered kidney disease and lost both kidneys.
She was one of the youngest Victorian children to commence a new treatment called peritoneal dialysis.
At age four, Marina’s story featured in the Herald Sun - a celebration of the fact that she had beaten the odds and made it to her fourth birthday.
Marina received her first transplant in 1985 at age five, however sadly this was a failure.
She developed a staph infection in the transplanted kidney and was given just three days to live.
Amazingly, Marina pulled through, although the transplant lasted only one week.
At age eight, Marina received lifesaving news from the Royal Melbourne Hospital, who advised her parents that a kidney had been found for Marina.
‘I received the gift of life, and I am so grateful to the family who had tragically lost their son in a motor vehicle accident – they gave me a second chance at life.
I remember looking at my mum and smiling - I was well, I could be a normal child and not feel sick anymore.’
22 years later, in 2009, Marina received the devastating news that the kidney she received in 1987 had started to fail, and her body was rejecting the organ.
She went back onto haemodialysis at the age of 30.
Five years later, after an incredible 5,760 hours spent on a dialysis machine, Marina received a phone call that changed her life.
A match had been found for her, a living donor, and her transplant occurred on 9th December 2013.
Last week, five years after her transplant, Marina travelled to the Gold Coast, to participate in the Australian Transplant Games.
Receiving gold was not the highlight for Marina though – it was the experience of meeting others who had been through similar situations.
"It was such an emotional experience, and so humbling to see so many others who have been blessed by getting a second chance at life.
Meeting other participants, and sharing stories of our journeys and experiences was comforting and inspirational - everyone there was so grateful for the gift of life they had been given through organ donation.
Cheering on the kids who have been given transplants was amazing, and it was fantastic to see their smiles and the fun they were having – knowing how unwell they had been."
Importantly, the Games are also held to raise awareness of organ donation, as currently only 33% of Australians are registered organ donors.
To become an organ donor, and give someone like Marina a second chance at life, please click here.
Marina – you are truly an inspirational and amazing person – thank you for sharing your journey and congratulations on all your amazing achievements.