Carly Kelly was born with autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease, a disease that not only affects the kidneys, but also can lead to liver problems. She spent the first month of her life in the Neonatal ICU at Mayo Clinic, where physicians told Carly’s family she would eventually need a kidney transplant.
“I was the first one to register as a donor,” says Tim Kelly, Carly’s father. “And I was so blessed to be a match. Carly and I have the exact same blood type: AB negative. There are so many people out there that are waiting for kidney and other organs. It is such a long waitlist, and to be able to give my daughter a kidney right off the bat was so fortunate for both of us.”
At age 8, Carly had her first organ transplant, receiving a kidney from her father. In 2019, Carly went into liver failure she received a liver transplant on May 2, 2019. 10 months later, Carly received her second kidney transplant. All three transplants have taken place at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
Now 27 years old, Carly is doing well and hasn’t let her transplants slow her down. She and her father will compete in the 2022 Transplant Games of America, which will take place July 29-Aug. 3 in San Diego. The games are open to transplant recipients, living donors and donor families in different categories.
Carly and Tim will be part of Team MN-DAK, which is sponsored by LifeSource. This will be their third time competing in the games, taking part in cycling, pickleball and cornhole. They’ve been preparing together for the event.
“Every day, we’ll bike, or we’ll go for a walk, or we’ll play pickleball or we’ll throw some bags,” says Carly. “Being together and preparing, it’s something just my dad and I do, which is really cool. It’s not really about competing. It’s more about honoring your donor.”
There are nearly 106,000 people in the U.S. waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant. Tim and Carly both say that competing in the games is not only about honoring the donors, but also raising awareness.
“Please registered to be a donor,” implores Tim. “One person can save up to eight lives. And it’s easy thing to do. Carly wouldn’t be here without multiple donors.”
To register to be a donor, visit the Donate Life America website.
On the Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Carly and Tim Kelly share their story.
Watch: Carly and Tim Kelly share their transplant journey and discuss the Transplant Games of America.
Read the full transcript.
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