Kim O’Reilly’s body is 53, but her kidney and pancreas are much younger. They belonged to her son, who donated them to her.
Her failing organs were a result of Type 1 diabetes, with which she was diagnosed at the age of 5. She reluctantly agreed to the kidney transplant in 2001, a couple of years after her daughter died following a similar procedure. Her son was 18 at the time.
“We both woke up from the OR with a brand new appreciation of life and health,” O’Reilly says.
Respecting her health has been “huge” ever since, adds the athlete who trains at CrossFit VO2 Max in Grande Prairie, Alta., Canada. O’Reilly has significant scarring from her surgeries and has to push through some resulting mobility issues, but she’s always ready to work.
Janine Walinski of CrossFit VO2 Max says O’Reilly is one of her most dedicated clients and pushes herself during workouts no matter what—even if she’s sick.
“I’m really proud of Kimmie, most of all for her determination,” the trainer says.
O’Reilly still competes in track and field and recently took gold in all the sprint events at the Canadian Transplant Games in Calgary, Alta.
“I just want to be able to enjoy life,” she says. “I love the outdoors and being able to get out there and just do those things. I mean, that’s what I want to do. I have no big dreams about, I don’t know, being filthy rich. I just want to be active.”
Video by Jeremy Podlog and Mike Warkentin.
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Additional video: A Second Chance at Life by Chris Klug, published April 26, 2011.