Delaware resident and heart-transplant recipient Roman Christopher competed in the Transplant Games of America last week and won a gold medal in the Youth Olympiad.
The “Donate Life Transplant Games” is a multi-sport festival event produced by Transplant Games of America for individuals who have undergone life-saving transplant surgeries. Participants can be living donors, organ transplant recipients, bone marrow, corneal and tissue transplant recipients.
The Donate Life Transplant Games were created to both highlight the critical importance of organ, eye and tissue donation, organizers say, as well as celebrate the lives of organ donors and recipients.
Four-year-old Roman competed in the basketball, mini-golf, soccer, running Olympiad where he placed first in his age division.
Roman was born Oct. 28, 2011, at Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus with a heart condition known as hypoplastic left heart syndrome. The congenital disease in which the left side of the heart – the side that pumps blood to the lungs – is underdeveloped only affects one in 100 children.
At 7 days old, he underwent several unsuccessful surgeries to fix his heart. After the surgeries, his parents were told to take him home to let him pass, but luckily he held on long enough for them to find a donor heart.
In May 2012, he received a new heart from an anonymous donor child.
Now, at 4 years old, he’s healthy enough to participate in events like the Transplant Games, where he can run and play, just like any other boy his age.