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Sarah McPharlin's 2010 US Transplant Games Blog

Sarah McPharlin is a heart transplant recipient as well as a gold and silver medal winning tennis champion!  Read below to follow Sarah as she prepares for and participates in the 2010 US Transplant Games, and scroll to the bottom for the latest updates!



My name is Sarah McPharlin. I am a junior at Michigan State, and I am currently in the pre-Nursing program. I just finished taking a summer biology class and got a B. Yeah!!! This summer I am once again participating in the US Transplant Games. This year the games are being held in Madison Wisconsin, July 31- Aug.3. The transplant Games are an Olympic type event where all fifty states are represented. Living donors, donor's families and blood organ recipients participate in this four day event. Team Michigan was fortunate enough to have received money from the Children's Hospital of Michigan to help provide our uniforms this year. Our 2010 colors are cardinal and white.

I am a heart transplant recipient and had my transplant at the Children's Hospital of Michigan in 2001. I have gone to two Transplant Games so far and this will be my third. I've been to Louisville, Kentucky where I won the gold medal in tennis, and to Pittsburgh where I won the silver medal in tennis.

This summer I will be competing in Tennis, Volleyball, Basketball, and possibly a swimming relay. Winning is fun but what is most important is that the message that organ donation works is clearly and positively seen throughout the games.

This weekend we have our kick off party, near Lansing. We will be getting our uniforms, get a chance to meet this year's team, and will be able to hear all the details and prepare for our July 30th departure. I am so glad to have Children's as one of our sponsors on our shirt. Without Children's, I wouldn't have been able to participate in such a remarkable life changing event. Thank you for all your love, encouragement and knowledge.To prepare for the games, I've been hitting with my tennis trainer, Mike, twice a week. We work on volleys, overheads, forehands, backhands, and serves. I am shooting hoops for basketball in the backyard. On our upcoming family week-end reunion in Caseville we play non-stop volleyball so I can consider all my cousins as trainers.

I will update you on the progress and events of the games. Again, thank you for any part you played in my recovery and quality of life. You are very special to me.

Three days after the Games I will be a counselor at Camp Michitanki. This is the University of Michigan's Transplant Camp. I have had the pleasure of being a camper and a counselor in training there so far. This is another wonderful experience for transplanted children. They learn that live goes on, that it can be fun and that they are not alone.

I will write soon,
Sarah McPharlin


This week I spent a lot of time working out at my house lifting weights, doing sit ups, and running on our elliptical. I also practiced twice with my tennis trainer. I've been shooting hoops at my house, and even went and swam some laps at the local pool park just in case I end up competing in swimming this year. This weekend we are going "up north" where I plan on practicing some volleyball skills.

We have been busy making the spirit items for the trip. Such as noise makers, beach balls that are written on and say "Good Luck from Team Michigan," and signs that are M, I, C, H, I, G,A,N, so that you can do the chant give me and M, Give me a I, and so on.

We are starting to get really excited for the games, now that we had our team kick off meeting, and now have our uniforms and such.

I can't believe its almost a week away.

Sarah McPharlin


Today we are packing and getting everything ready for the transplant games. Tomorrow we leave Ann Arbor on a bus with the team at 8am, and will be driving to Wisconsin for 10 hours.

The opening Ceremony is Saturday Night, but we will be doing the 5K walk in the morning. The games begin Sunday. I am competing in Tennis, Basketball and Volleyball.

Sunday I will be playing basketball. Monday will be Tennis singles and Basketball finals. Tuesday will be Volleyball and closing ceremonies.

I have my last practice today with my trainer for tennis.

Thanks again,
Sarah McPharlin


   My family and I are now in Madison Wisconsin. Yesterday we took a Bus from Ann Arbor to here, the ride was about 8 hours, and we watched 4 movies on our way.

Yesterday we registered and got a T-shirts for the 5K donor walk which we are about to go to right now. Yesterday evening we watched the Ballroom dancing competition which was a lot of fun. Today our opening ceremonies at night and then the games begin tomorrow ( Sunday.)

Wisconsin is a gorgeous state. Our hotel is right by the capital.

I am looking forward to the games beginning tomorrow.

~ Sarah McPharlin

This is Sarah's mom, Dianne. The girls, Emily and Sarah, are getting ready for today's activities and I have been up for awhile already. Today Sarah is swimming the breast stroke in a relay. It is not her favorite event but she helps Team Michigan fill a spot at that event. It also gives us a chance to cheer on our great swimming team. So far team Michigan has taken 3 golds and a silver in yesterday's swimming events. One of our team members also won the gold in the "seventy and over" 5K race yesterday. Our family walked it and did it in a little over an hour. The fastest runner did it in 14 minutes.

We had a wonderful day yesterday. It started with the 5K walk in beautiful Madison. The race started right in the center of downtown where there was this great farmer's market going on. The downtown area is so clean and vibrant. 2,800 participants walked for the cause of organ donation. It is always such an emotional moment for me. I personally want to do a much better job of getting people to sign up to become donors. Michigan is the 42nd state in organ donation. Wisconsin just did a huge campaign and they now have 54% of their drivers registered and when the chance actually arises for families to donate, 75% say yes. Wow. That is impressive!!!!!!!!

Sarah then went to basketball practice. The team practiced for an hour getting ready for the first match tonight against Team Capital, Washington DC at 6. Basketball is soooo much fun. Our 218 fans come out in full colors and spirit abounds.

Then to opening ceremonies. Always a wonderful event. It started with a massive and well run "tailgate party" where all 8,000 participants had a wonderful Wisconsin meal and got a chance to exchange stories and pins. Emily has all but 2 pins. The ceremony was great. It is the 20th anniversary of the games. We were given a brief history of the 10 different U.S. games that have taken place over the years. They games take place in the U.S. every 2 years. The ceremony closed with a donor mother who donated her child's infant organs singing "Good" from "Wicked" in honor of her daughter and also to the child who received her heart who was in the crowd. The torch was then lit and THE GAMES OFFICALLY BEGAN.

I hope that some day you will all be able to experience this wonderful positive event. Thank you again DMC Children's Hospital of Michigan for your donation towards our uniforms. It is an honor to have your name on the back of our uniforms. Thank you for all you do to promote organ donation in Michigan. Thank you also for your help maintaining a high quality of life for your patients after the transplant. You are all so special to us.


   Today I had my tennis matches, and I won the gold medal. I played two games. One against a girl from Northern California and one against a girl from Idaho.The second match was the best. The lead went back and forth several times but finally I got tired and decided the match had to end so I got serious and threw in a few aces and good hits and won 8-5 in a pro set scoring system.
 We also had our last two basketball games this evening, and we won the gold. The games this evening were really eventful and intense. I did a good job of playing the outside and not getting pushed around. We played Team Liberty and Team Georgia. Georgia took the gold last year, so it was kind of a friendly grudge match. We had fabulous fans on the sidelines, and everyone on the team played awesome. I scored in every game. Emily played her baritone and well over 100 fans cheered us on every night. A great group also came and cheered us on at the tennis courts. We really are a becoming a great group of friends .Thank you Children's Hospital of Michigan for allowing me to play. It was so much fun playing the games again.  

The games are about to close. The days went so fast, Tomorrow I will play volleyball. We need to be at the arena at 7:30 am. Usually a California team wins those matches but we certainly have fun trying. Closing ceremonies are at 7 pm. It is a beautiful ceremony with final awards, presentations, and the announcement of where the games will be 2 years from now. Madison is a very nice town. Ann Arbor on steroids with a great lake. Clean, safe and fun.

I hope some day Children's Hospital will be able to send their team to the games to experience this positive event first hand.
With respect and love,


My volleyball team didn't make it too far into the Volleyball tournament. We won two of our games, but had loads of fun playing.  We were much better this year than last year.

The closing ceremony was fantastic. A lot of awards were given out to members of teams for being good promoters of organ donation and living life to their fullest after having their transplant. Awards were also given out to athletes who won the most medals, and to the team who won the most medals.  There wer also really good performers. Some people danced, and others sang.  The end of the games party was a lot of fun this year too. They had a band come and they played songs while everyone was allowed to hang around after the ceremony and dance and get to know one another.
I enjoyed hearing others' stories about their transplant or how they decided to donate their loved ones organs. The games were great, and I am looking forward to hearing about where they will be held in 2 years.  Rumor is that they will be out west.  I am so glad that I got to share my third experience of the games with all of you.
Sarah McPharlin