By Allan Dowd Reuters
American snowboarder Chris Klug is more than just happy to be in the Olympics, he is happy to be healthy and alive and is using the Vancouver Games to get out the message on organ donors and recipients.
The 37-year-old Aspen, Colorado resident, who was suffering a rare degenerative condition, received a liver transplant in 2000 and now hopes that adding to his Olympic medal collection will prove a point.
"It is important that other people going through the process that I did almost 10 years ago see what is possible after a transplant," Klug told reporters on Tuesday as he waits to compete in the men's parallel giant slalom on Feb. 27.
"I'm healthier and stronger than I was before my transplant, and people ought to know that."
Klug, who won bronze in the 2002 Salt Lake City Games and became the first athlete to win an Olympic medal after having a major organ transplant, is working with health officials in Vancouver to publicize the need for organ donors.
He competed in the 1998 Nagano Games, when snowboarding made its Olympic debut, and acknowledges Vancouver will probably be his last Olympics.
Klug's previous Olympic experiences, both good and bad, have taught him some valuable lessons for how to enjoy his time in Vancouver. He looked relaxed as he chatted to reporters.
"One of my mantras and goals this time is just enjoy the ride. Take it all in."
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