Carol Dubeau holds the silver medal she received
Photo: Brent Davis
Photo: Brent Davis
I met Carol Dubeau several times while she was waiting for her lung transplant at Toronto General Hospital and it's amazing to see the transformation that has taken place since her transplant. I'm very pleased to post this story about her trip to The Canadian Transplant Games.
By Brent Davis Waterloo Region Record
WATERLOO, Ontario — It’s a time Carol Dubeau will never forget.
Forty-two minutes, 53 seconds.
It’s the time she took to complete a three-kilometer competitive walk in Quebec City earlier this month.
But in many ways, it’s taken a lot longer for her to cover that distance.
Just over a year ago, the 63-year-old Waterloo woman was lying in a coma in a Toronto hospital, her body struggling to accept a transplanted pair of lungs after hers were stricken with a rare type of pneumonia.
When she emerged from the five-week coma, she’d lost her muscle memory. She couldn’t walk; she could barely talk. Dubeau embarked on the long road to recovery.
By May, she was able to walk a mile (1.6 kilometers) on an indoor track. She set her sights on the Canadian Transplant Games in Quebec.
Held every two years, the games are open to any transplant recipient at any age, and include sports like tennis, track and field, swimming and golf.
Dubeau competed in the three-kilometer walk, accompanied by a woman from British Columbia whose presence provided silent encouragement.
“She was like a guardian angel on my shoulder,” Dubeau said.
While training for the event, Dubeau found she had to stop partway. During competition, she kept going, and shaved nearly 18 minutes off her previous best time. The result earned her a silver medal in her age group.
It was a testament both to her recovery and to the value of organ donation.
“I can say to donor families with a huge smile on my face — you can come this far,” Dubeau said. The games, she said, were one way for recipients to say thank you both to their own support networks and to donor families for the gifts their loved ones have given them.
Dubeau fell ill in early 2007 while she was abroad. Having suffered a serious relapse later that year, she was accepted to a transplant waiting list in March, 2008. In June, 2009, a match was found and the double-lung transplant took place at Toronto General Hospital.
Now, Dubeau is speaking out about the importance of organ donation. That gift has allowed her to watch four grandchildren grow and walk her son down the aisle. “I could have been six feet under,” she said.
And she’s looking to participate in future competitions — the Canadian Transplant Games two years from now, and possibly the Worlds next year in Sweden.
“You have a responsibility in my mind as a recipient to carry on the best possible life you can carry on with,” Dubeau said.
Scanning through the games results I saw many familiar names from the U.S. and Canada. You can view the complete US/Canada transplant games results at the following links:
U.S. Transplant Games, July 30 - Aug 4, 2010, Madison, Wisconsin.
Canadian Transplant Games, Aug 9-14, 2010, Quebec City.
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