Vancouver woman to compete in World Transplant Games

Jeff Hodson/Metro Vancouver


Vancouver’s Carrie Jung is heading to Bangkok, Thailand, on Wednesday to compete in the World Transplant Games. Jung had a heart transplant five years ago. She will compete in the 100- and 200-metre sprints, and the 400-metre relay race.

Carrie Jung’s heart is as close to gold as anybody’s can be.

Aside from the gold medal it won her at last year’s Canadian Transplant Games in Edmonton, it’s also won her a silver and several bronze medals.

This week, Jung, 42, is joining a team of 70 Canadian transplant recipients, doctors, coaches and friends at the World Transplant Games in Bangkok, Thailand.

“I was never an athlete before,” said Jung, who was 30 when she was diagnosed with non-congenital heart disease, for which she required a transplant.

“Now I’ve reached a point where I feel pretty strong at track. I don’t think that whatever limitations I have are due to my heart.”

The Capilano College ESL teacher said she feels stronger than she did before she received her new heart five years ago, and will compete in the 100- and 200-metre sprints, and 400-metre relay race.

“It took me almost a year before I was able to walk fairly fast and without tiring,” she said. “The day I got out of hospital I was trying to cross the street at a major intersection and the light changed before I was halfway across. I felt like I was 85 years old.”

Jung’s transplant team encouraged her to try running as part of her rehabilitation regime.

“At first, my doctors were really cautious because no one else they knew had done a power sport before. Now we’re learning that with the right kind of training we can do what normal people can do. We may have to tailor it, but we can catch up.”

The Games are a venue for the community to celebrate their success and inspire each other, said Jung.

“The more (people) are aware how active and healthy we are, the more willing they will be to sign their donor cards.”

Jung’s trainer, Tim Le Bas, said she’s fitter than most non-transplant women her age.

“If you saw her you would never ever know she had a heart transplant,” he said. “When you’re given a second opportunity like that you tend to grasp it and take much more care of your body.”

Jung doesn’t know the name of the man whose heart she received, but she corresponds with his mother.

“It’s letting her know what I’m able to do with her son’s heart, and I really want her to know what that has meant for my life.”

games first held in 1978

  • The World Transplant Games were first held in 1978. Winter and Summer Games are held every other year and feature competitors of every age.

  • Competitors include lung, heart, kidney, bone marrow and liver transplant recipients.

  • Canadian team participants are funded in part by the Canadian Transplant Society, and through personal fundraising. It costs about $3,000 per athlete to compete.