News / USA

    Olympic Transplant Recipient Promotes Organ Donation

    US parallel giant slalom snowboarder Chris Klug
    US parallel giant slalom snowboarder Chris Klug

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Parke Brewer

    United States parallel giant slalom snowboarder Chris Klug has more than just a desire to win an Olympic medal in Vancouver. He also is spreading the word about the need for organ donors, as he himself is a transplant recipient.  

    American Chris Klug is by no means your typical Olympic snowboarder. In fact, he's not your typical recreational snowboarder either.

    In a sport that is mostly popular with a younger generation, Klug is 37-years-old and is married. He is also much bigger than your typical snowboarder, standing 1.91 meters tall and weighing more than 100 kilograms.

    Klug has been snowboarding since 1983, before most of his competitors were even born. He finished sixth in the giant slalom event when snowboarding made its debut at the 1998 Nagano Olympics. He is now is ready to compete in his third Olympics.

    "You know, I was an avid skateboarder as a kid," Klug said. "I had a big half-pipe in my backyard and that's what kind of drew me to snowboarding initially. I looked and I said, hey, that's skateboarding on snow. That's perfect for me."

    And he's still at it 27 years later in a career that has included not only injuries like a broken collar bone, broken ankles and torn knee ligaments, but also a liver transplant. In fact, Chris Klug was the first athlete to win an Olympic medal after undergoing a major organ transplant. He received a new liver less than two years before winning a snowboarding bronze medal at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.

    In the early 1990s, Klug had been diagnosed with a rare disease known as Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC), a rare degenerative liver condition that requires a transplant.

    It is the same disease that caused the death a decade ago of former star National Football League running back Walter Payton.

    Klug was on the transplant waiting list for six years, and during that time he was out care-free, riding his snowboard, playing and training hard. But his health took a turn for the worse in early 2000 and he needed to get serious about being upgraded on the list. He told VOA it was a scary time in his life.

    "You know you're hoping and praying for a second chance and not really knowing what your future holds. It's not like all the orthopedic injuries I've had where you go get an MRI or an X-ray and you get it fixed. You've got to hope and hang out and pray for a second chance," the snowboarder said.

    Klug got that second chance and remembers it well. It came July 28 in 2000, when a young boy died in a gunshot accident and his parents decided to donate his organs. Klug was the recipient of the boy's liver, and three others also received his organs.

    It was during that critical waiting period 10 years ago that Klug decided if he pulled through, he would do everything in his power to help others going through the same thing.

    "When I was on the waiting list in 2000, there were 84,000 people in the U.S. waiting for solid organ transplants, and about 15 died each day waiting. You know, at one point I thought I was going to be one of those 15," said Klug.

    So in 2004, he started the Chris Klug Foundation with the goal of promoting life-saving donations and helping improve the quality of life for donors, recipients and transplant candidates.

    "In 2009 we hosted 75 events around the country – [called] Donor Dudes events – which is a program that we started on high school and college campuses, really to promote donation and encourage young people to share their decision and make sure they know the facts about donation," he added.

    Klug held another Donor Dudes event at the recent Winter X Games which were held this year in his hometown of Aspen, Colorado.

    Chris Klug has had other challenges in his career. He believes he was wrongly denied a place on the 2006 U.S. Olympic team for the Turin Winter Games. And even though he won at the national championships last year, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association decided not to fund him anymore. So he formed his own team with three others and solicited his own sponsors. And he successfully made it through qualifying this season to make it on the U.S. Team for Vancouver.  

    On Saturday, Klug will compete in the men's parallel giant slalom snowboard event. He is fairly certain this is his final Olympics, so he has been relishing the experience. "That's been my mantra all season, just enjoy the ride. Mainly partly because of knowing this is probably my last competitive season, and then maybe for missing out in 2006, you know I really wanted to savor every moment in this," said Klug.

    Chris Klug, who takes anti-rejection drugs, says he is stronger than he was before his liver transplant. He is currently 15th in the World Cup standings and the veteran snowboarder said he feels confident he can be in the running for an Olympic medal.

    You May Like

    Ethiopia's Anti-terrorism Law: Security or Silencing Dissent?

    Yonatan Tesfaye was detained in December 2015 on charges under Ethiopia's Anti-Terrorism Proclamation; eleven statements from his Facebook page were used as evidence

    Egypt Orders Trial for Journalists Charged With Harboring Reporters

    Order targets journalists' union chief Yehia Qalash, Khaled al-Balshy and Gamal Abdel Rahim for allegedly spreading false news, harboring fugitive colleagues

    Nigerian Oil Production Falls as Militant Attacks Take Toll

    Country no longer Africa's petroleum king due to renewed militancy in its oil-producing region

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahdai
    X
    Lisa Schlein
    May 31, 2016 1:56 PM
    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahda

    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Mobile App Allows Dutch Muslims to Rate their Imams

    If a young Dutch-Moroccan app developer has his way, Muslims in the Netherlands will soon be able to rate their imams online. Mohamed Mouman says imams rarely get feedback from their followers. He believes his app can give prayer leaders a better picture of what's happening in their communities — and can also keep young people from being radicalized. Serginho Roosblad reports from Amsterdam.
    Video

    Video Moscow Condemns NATO Plans to Beef Up Defense in Eastern Europe, Baltics

    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday an upcoming "landmark summit" will enhance the alliance's defensive and deterrent presence in eastern Europe and the Baltics. He is visiting Poland ahead of the NATO Summit in Warsaw. Zlatica Hoke reports
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video F-35 Fighter Jet Draws Criticisms as Costs Mount

    America’s latest fighter plane, the F-35, has been mired in controversy. Critics cite cost, faulty design, and the attempt to use it to fill multiple roles. Even the pilot’s helmet is controversial. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Concerns Over Civilian Suffering as Iraqi Forces Surround Fallujah

    Thousands of residents are trapped inside the IS-held city ahead of a full scale Iraqi offensive aimed at retaking it.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora