Life-saving recipients compete in the Australian Transplant Games

ON YOUR MARKS: Transplant recipients Jayden Skrtic, 7, Paul Drabsch and Wairangi Te Rupe, 8, will compete in the Australian Transplant Games in Sydney next week. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

ON YOUR MARKS: Transplant recipients Jayden Skrtic, 7, Paul Drabsch and Wairangi Te Rupe, 8, will compete in the Australian Transplant Games in Sydney next week. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

Two Orange children share a unique bond.

Both suffered from the rare liver disease Biliary Atresia. Both needed life-saving liver transplants at a young age. Both survived. And now both will compete in sporting events at the Australian Transplant Games in Western Sydney next week.

When you look at the healthy smiling faces of Jayden Skrtic, 7, and Wairangi Te Rupe, 8, it is hard to imagine the turmoil that has dominated their short lives.

Wairangi also had lymphoma four years ago.

Mum, Samantha Te Rupe, said on Tuesday it had been a traumatic time, but was delighted now to see Wairangi competing in a healthy environment.

“It’s emotional. You just remember all those times you didn’t think you’d see anything like this. It amplifies just how proud you are.”

Wairangi was just one year old when a liver donor was found. Jayden wasn’t so lucky. Also just one, as the situation worsened and a donor couldn’t be found, dad Tom donated part of his liver to save his son.

“When he was born he was very jaundicy. He had Biliary Atresia. One in 20,000 babies are born with it. It’s where you are missing the bile duct.

“Jayden was on the donor list for a long time, he got pretty sick there. He only had a week or so.

“I’m very happy for him now that he can do that (compete in the games).

The pair will compete in a range of athletics events including running, long jump and shot put.

Joining them at the games from Orange is kidney transplant recipient Paul Drabsch who will compete in tennis and table tennis.

The A-grade tennis player and veteran of six previous Transplant Games and three World Games said: “The most pleasing thing for me is to raise awareness of transplantation and organ donation. When the games are on there is actually quite a spike.”

About 1500 athletes from all over Australia will contest the biennial games. 

A highlight event will occur in Martin Place in Sydney at 11am on Monday when the participating recipients will unite to form a human image of the total number of years of extra life they have enjoyed following their transplants.

It's emotional. You just remember all those times you didn't think you'd see anything like this. - Samantha Te Rupe, mother of transplant recipient Wairangi

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