Posted By PETER DOWNS, STANDARD STAFF, St. Catharines, Ontario
The 13-year-old boy watches intently as his dad tells the story of his son's heart transplant when he was a baby.
"Oh, you're going to cry again," Jacob Kingdon Kramer tells his father, sitting right up against him on a couch in the living room of the family's Vineland home.
Boris Kramer smiles at his son and carries on about the heart from someone else's body that beats in his son's chest.
And when he gets to the part about the joy Jacob and his parents get out of attending the World Transplant Games, the tears well in Kramer's eyes.
"It's still emotional," he says. "It's an amazing experience to see people encourage another person. It's about life. It's about people enjoying each other."
The games also allow the family to get together with hundreds of other families who understand exactly what they've gone through.
Jacob, a Grade 7 student at St. Edward School in Jordan, was born with a condition that wouldn't allow his heart to pump properly. A fraternal twin brother died in the uterus of the same condition. His mother, Jennifer, had an emergency caesarean section five weeks before her due date and Jacob was put on a heart transplant list.
At five months old, he received a heart transplant, but the organ had been damaged by ice during transport. Jacob was then put on the top of the list in North America and three days later received a second transplant.
He will need to take anti-rejection medication for the rest of his life and has battled a number of related medical problems.
But those daily medical issues take a backseat at the games, where everyone involved celebrates the life-saving gift of transplants, Kramer says.
Held every other year, the international event draws close to 2,000 organ recipients of all ages who compete in a variety of sports.
The event aims to raise awareness of the continuing need for organ donation.
"It doesn't really matter how people perform," Kramer says. "At the end, everyone is cheering for that one person to finish. It's amazing."
Two years ago, Jacob competed in the world games in Thailand. He's also participated in national versions of the event, which are held in alternating years.
He's slated to compete in three events -- badminton, ping pong and long jump -- in this summer's world games, which run from Aug. 22-30 near Brisbane, Australia.
The majority of families who participate rely on fundraising to cover their travel expenses.
Jacob and his parents are trying to raise the approximately $9,000 it will cost them to attend the event. They're roughly halfway towards their target.
Jacob's school and other groups have organized fundraisers on the family's behalf to help out.
Donations can also be made online by logging on to www.kramersculptures.com and following the link.
To find out more about the Transplant Games in Australia click here.
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