Reena Raju (35), a Bengalurean, is the poster girl for those who need organ transplant. The first woman from Karnataka to receive an organ transplant, Reena is participating in the World Transplant Games 2017, which started in Spain on Sunday, June 25.

Reena is all set to represent India in badminton (mixed doubles) and 100-metre run at the 21st edition of the biannual event that flagged off at Malaga. She is India’s first woman organ transplant recipient athlete to take part in a World Transplant Games meet.

Also Read: Pune Hosp Conducts India’s First Uterus Transplant

The Bengaluru resident will run in the women’s 100m (30-39 years category) along with badminton mixed doubles player Balveer Singh (a kidney recipient) who is from Uttar Pradesh and Dharmendra Soti from Lucknow in the eight-day event organized by the World Transplant Games Federation (WTGF).

“I take great pride in representing my country for the World Transplant Games 2017,” Reena said. “I was keen on taking part in the WTGF meet and had prepared myself,” she told TOI.

This tournament’s solely purpose is to spread awareness about organ donation, so is Reena’s.

Reena was diagnosed with cardio myopathy (heart muscle disease) and had undergone a heart transplant in Chennai in November 2009 when she was 28. She is also the founder of Light a Life Foundation, an organisation that provides holistic support post organ transplant. Reena runs the organization to aid organ recipients in the country by supporting them with medicines.

An athlete since her teens, Reena was a hockey player before the transplant. The bold woman who has always challenged herself to take new rides everyday, dabbling various activities, had tried underwater diving and skydiving abroad in recent years. Reena has also trained herself for the sprint.

Also Read: In a First, Pune Woman to get her Mother’s Womb

“Reena is a quick learner and an enthusiast. We trained her for three weeks,” said Deepak Raj S, her badminton coach from D’s Talents academy.

Looking at the history of her medical condition, the doctor had to be sure about Reena’s well-being to take part in the games without risking her life, so she was prescribed a series of mandatory medical tests to prove her fitness and ability required to take part in at the WTGF entry level.

According to Dr K M Cherian, a cardiac surgeon from Frontier Lifeline Hospital, who conducted Reena’s transplant, said, “Reena did extremely well after the transplant. She had the mild fear of rejection of organ, but overcame it sooner. She had been a sportsperson even before the transplant. Now, as she is participating in the international sports event, we conducted series of tests on her. She is fine.”

“While countries like the UK and the US have hundreds of participants, there are only three from India. There’s lack of awareness, encouragement and sponsorships for organ recipients,” a disappointed Reena said.

The WTGF events are conducted internationally to spread awareness about transplants and increase organ donation.

We are so proud of you Reena!

Feature Image Credit: My Medical Mantra

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