By Mike Schuh

CARNEY, Md. (WJZ) — With more than 100,000 people waiting for organ transplants each year and only 30,000 getting them, the survivors and donor families find every opportunity they can to celebrate life.

Mike Schuh travels back to the home of the little girl who recently embarked on an amazing journey of celebration.

Olivia Strama won four medals at a national competition. She won four others two years ago–in the Transplant Games. But the only reason she can compete in those games is because of what she calls her zipper.

At 9-months-old, her heart rapidly began to fail. And in record time for Hopkins, in 12 hours a donor was found.

Olivia: “My heart was very sick.”

Schuh: “And what did they do?”

Olivia: “They gave me a new heart.”

Four years later, she’s well enough to win.

“I run and then I jump,” Olivia said.

Over the weekend, Olivia and 28 other transplant recipients from Maryland again competed. And now she’s back to show off her success.

Schuh: “What do you have around your neck?”

Olivia: “More medals.”

Two gold, two silver.

“This one’s for bowling and jumping,” she said.

Everyone at the Transplant Games has been touched by another person’s gift. Maybe it comes with the territory. Olivia’s mom tells of one boy who stopped short of the finish line to let a child in a walker finish first.

“We all were crying and got goosebumps,” said Amanda Strama.

“It shows how important the need is for people to register to be organ donors,” said Stacy Thompson of the Living Legacy Foundation.

Olivia says she wants to compete in the next Transplant Games.

Right now, there are 2,000 people waiting for organ transplants in the state of Maryland.


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