In virtually any sport, there's an athlete who tested boundaries, competing despite overwhelming physical odds. Here are the stories of five athletes who played professional or Olympic sports after receiving organ transplants:
In Olympic snowboarding, it's Chris Klug who amazed fans. Klug took to the slopes only two months after a liver transplant. By the four month mark, Klug had returned to the World Cup Circuit. He won a place in the Olympic games where he earned a bronze medal. All told, Klug has represented the United States in the Olympics three times, two of them after the liver transplant.
Erik Compton plays professional golf despite not one, but two, heart transplants. He underwent his first transplant at age 12, the same year he learned to play golf. It was the heart surgery that propelled the budding athlete toward golf, after his doctors advised against contact sports, Golf magazine said. Compton excelled and started touring. But donated hearts have a shelf life, the Washington Times explained, and in 2007 Compton's needed replacement after he suffered a heart attack. He received a donor heart in 2008, and within five months made the cut for another PGA tour. Compton is still going strong, having earned his 2013 PGA Tour Card last month.
Basketball has boasted two kidney transplant recipients on its rosters. First there was Sean Elliott who was instrumental in helping the Spurs claim a national title in 1999 with a play called the "Memorial Day Miracle," according to Hoopedia. After the championship win, he disclosed he'd been playing with kidney disease and faced a transplant. Although his recovery caused him to miss the next 63 games, he was back on the court seven months later.
Two years after Miami Heat player Alonzo Mourning underwent a 2003 kidney transplant, he led the league in shooting and blocked shots, Sports Illustrated noted. His court dominance helped the team claim the 2006 NBA title. Mourning continued playing professional ball until 2009 when he suffered a leg injury.
Carson Cainer was the Cincinnati Reds 2006 fourteenth-round draft pick. Before signing, he headed for the hospital for a kidney transplant. Cainer never made it to the majors; he was released by the Reds in 2010 after several seasons in the minors. But another door opened, this one in the World Transplant Games where he took a bronze for bowling in 2011.