Houston teen competes in National Transplant Games

By Rachel McNeill - Anchor

HOUSTON - As the world's elite athletes converge on London for the 2012 Olympic Games, 1,200 others who've undergone life-saving surgeries are heading to Grand Rapids, Mich., for the National Transplant Games.

Fifteen-year-old Keyon Tolbert will represent Team Texas in the pool, on the track and on the basketball court.

Keyon told Local 2, "When I see the (Olympic) opening ceremony, it looks so cool and amazing, and I hope this one is just as cool and amazing."

Keyon is one of three kidney transplant patients and two heart transplant patients sponsored to the Transplant Games by the Quality of Life program at Texas Children's Hospital's Renal Service and Heart Center.

TCH Pediatric Nephrologist Dr. Annabelle Chua told Local 2, "It gets patients out there. They're able to network with other transplant patients and show that they can have an active life like other children."

At seven years old, Keyon was diagnosed with a genetic kidney disease. One of his kidneys was larger than the other. By age 10, he was on dialysis three times a week.

Eventually, both kidneys had to be removed.

Then after a two-and-a-half-year wait, he received a kidney transplant in March 2010.

His mom, Elizabeth, said when thinking about Keyon then and now, "Oh my goodness, it's like night and day ... to see him actually having all of this energy, just bouncing off the wall, is amazing."

Along with hopefully bringing home some medals, Keyon's really looking forward to meeting kids just like himself.

He explained, "It'll be a great opportunity to see them and see how they come prepared to compete."

Seeing her son glide through the water brings waves of gratitude for Keyon's mom.

She said, "We just can't thank the family, the donors, enough for what they've done for us. We really, really thank them from the bottom of our hearts."

Keyon will travel to Grand Rapids on July 27 to compete in the four-day event.

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