PALMYRA’S Pauline Sweeny is one of the amazing athletes competing in this year’s World Transplant Games in Perth.
Sweeny has undergone two kidney transplants since 2010 and it’s given her a new lease of life.
“One of the most important aspects of recovery from a transplant is exercise,” she says.
“For many years I’ve enjoyed walking and while on dialysis I delivered the community newspaper around Palmyra. It is what kept me fit, plus going to the gym.”
Sweeny is taking things to the next level by competing in five events at the World Transplant Games – pétanque singles and doubles, darts, discus and the punishing women’s 3000m race walk.
It’s the first time the Games have been held in Perth and only the third time in Australia (Sydney in 1997 and the Gold Coast in 2009).
“My favourite and hardest event is the 3000m race walk – I love walking out in the fresh air,” Sweeny says.
The 67-year-old has shown immense bravery throughout her life, battling a number of medical conditions.
“I was diagnosed with LUPUS [autoimmune disease] in 1979 and throughout my life this has affected other parts of my body,” she says.
“In 1983 I was diagnosed with nephritis, an inflammatory condition of the kidney, which means they do not filter waste from the blood correctly. For many years I had 17 per cent of my kidney function. Both kidneys are affected.
“In 2008 I required surgery on my left ear; consequently the anaesthetic was excreted through my kidneys and topped them over the edge. I was then told by my nephrologist that I needed a kidney transplant.”
Sweeny’s brother stepped up to the plate and donated a kidney, but unfortunately the transplant was unsuccessful.
Thankfully she underwent another kidney transplant in 2015 that was a success.
Sweeny is a volunteer at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in Palmyra and says her faith, along with support from family and friends, kept her going through tough times.
“My faith has been an incredible part of my journey,” she says.
“While I I was on haemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis, I was supported by members of the church and my family, who took me to and from appointments and at times provided meals. I also had the comfort of my then beautiful dog Sam, the cardigan corgi.
“When the second transplant finally came, my family stayed with me straight after the transplant. The church offered me general support and prayers.”
Since the transplant, Sweeny has lived life to the full – competing in two Australian Transplant Games and has just retired from her part-time job.
“Believe me, a transplant really improves quality of life.”
Transplant Australia CEO Chris Thomas said more than 1800 Australians are currently waiting for a transplant.
“Every Australian can make a difference by registering as a donor. It takes just one minute but has the potential to give someone years of extra life,” Mr Thomas said.
“These Games demonstrate what transplant recipients can achieve on the sporting field. Transplant Australia is committed to improving the lives of those waiting and those who have received a transplant and is proud to work with federal and state governments to achieve our shared vision for Australia in donation and transplantation.”
The World Transplant Games will be held in Perth from April 15-21. To register as a donor visit donatelife.gov.au/register-donor-today and to find out more about the Games see worldtransplantgames.org
by STEPHEN POLLOCK