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Jody Miller heading to ‘Transplant Games | News, Sports, Jobs

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WHEELING — Wheeling resident Jody Miller is heading to San Diego next week to support those participating in an Olympics-style competition for transplant recipients and living donors.

The Transplant Games takes place Friday through Wednesday, and about 10,000 athletes from around the world who have either received a transplanted organ or donated one are expected to participate.

Miller and her husband Gary are going to California to meet with transplant families and cheer on the athletes.

Miller’s daughter, Heather, passed away in 2008 following a car crash. Heather Miller’s heart, liver, both kidneys, her liver and tissue were donated following her death.

“(The Transplant Games) are like the Olympics, but are for transplant patients and living donors,” Miller said. “Family members of donors come as support staff.

“There is volleyball, swimming, darts and all the games.”

This will be her third time at the Transplant Games, and Miller has previously attended ceremonies in Salt Lake City and Cleveland.

She will join other transplant families in a 5K walk/run that is part of the week’s activities. The families also will participate in the opening ceremony parade along San Diego’s waterfront.

Festivities include a gallery featuring photos of those people whose organs were donated to save others.

Similar photos also will be used in a “quilt pinning” display. A professional quilt maker will later take the photos and turn it into a quilt that will be displayed at future Transplant Games.

“They love donor families,” Miller said of event organizers. “They know if there are no donors, no one is a transplant recipient.”

The attention paid to the organ donors and their families “is overwhelming at times,” Miller admitted.

“They are celebrating your loved one’s life who isn’t here anymore – but who at the same time gave life to so many. There is the whole gamut of emotions,” she said.

Heather MIller’s kidneys were donated to a patient in San Diego, and Miller said she and her husband plan to visit with the recipient’s family during the week.

“We will be meeting up with friends from Australia, and from all the states, really. It’s a pretty amazing event,” she said.

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