Transplant Team Arizona

Transplant Team Arizona is the team that represents Arizona in the Transplant Games of America and World Games. We are always looking for participants! 
TTA’s purpose is assist organ transplant recipients, donor families, and living donors with the costs associated in participation at the Transplant Games. We also encourage recipients to actively become involved with their own healthcare, through education, information, support, and other resources.
TTA actively promotes organ and tissue donation by continually demonstrating the success of organ donation and transplantation!
group of transplant recipients having fun in front of the TGA flag.

Membership

TGA 2022

group of transplant recipients having fun in front of the TGA flag.

Meet the Athletes

Meet the Coaches

Carol Inman, kidney recipient

The TGA (Transplant Games of America) is a powerful forum for the advocacy of organ donation.  Donation saves and extends lives and I have been dedicated to helping transplant groups over the years, i.e., serving on NKF Utah board, speaker’s bureau, and most recently two terms on TGA Athletes Advisory Council.   The last three TGA games my oldest granddaughter, Abbi, was able to accompany me and she is looking forward to joining me at the games this summer in Salt Lake City! As a 35-year transplant kidney recipient I am most grateful for the healthy and active life I have lived as a result of donation.  At the Games I gather with fellow athletes who have experienced what I have in this journey and we are all most happy to support the cause and each other. This will be my 13th transplant games (also World Games) starting with Los Angeles in 1992.

I was diagnosed with Chronic Glomerulonephritis in 1973 just prior to the early birth of my daughter.  After hemodialysis and then CAPD (Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis) for a couple of years I had a (living donor) kidney transplant in 1983 at the University of Washington Medical Center.  As a 33-year transplant recipient I am most grateful for the healthy and active life i have lived as a result of donation.  I was most fortunate to have the support of family through the early active years of raising our children.

Over the years I’ve been active with the National Kidney Foundation in different states as an advocate for organ donation.  I’ve also participated in their transplant games, both domestic and world games.  After the Transplant Games of America took over in 2012 I started to participate once more.   I will be participating this year in Salt Lake City with Team Transplant Arizona and taking my oldest granddaughter again.  Abbi, age 19, loved sharing the Houston TGA with me in 2014 and Ohio games in 2016 and asked to accompany me again this year.   These games are such a great forum for public donor awareness and a fun opportunity to meet with others who have been through the same experiences.  I’ve been on the TGA’s Advisory Board for two terms and a member of the Quarter Century Club.  The Quarter Century Club is comprised of organs recipients of at least 25 years and we will march in as a group at the Opening Ceremonies.

These are the transplant games i’ve participated in over the years, winning probably over 52 medals, mainly Gold.  I used to run Track & Field, 100m & 200m, relay, etc., but racquets sports are now what i enjoy:  badminton, tennis doubles or mixed doubles, and table tennis and this year adding pickle ball (TGA’s newest sport) which is my new love.

U.S. Games: 1992 UCLA/Los Angeles, CA, 1994 Emory Univ./Atlanta, GA, 1996 U of U/Salt Lake City, UT, 1998 OH State/Columbus, OH, 2000 Disney World/Orlando, FL, 2002 Disney World/Orlando, FL, 2012 Grand Valley U/Grand Rapids, MI, 2014 Houston, TX and 2016 Cleveland, Ohio

World Games: 1993 Vancouver BC, Canada, 1995 Manchester, England, 2001 Kobe, Japan

Evelyn Strope, Heart Transplant Recipient  

Evelyn “Evie” Strope has been a survivor since childhood.  Born with a congenital heart defect, Evie has faced hurdles her entire life. Her childhood was not easy with strained family relationships and open heart surgeries at 14 and 21 years old. When she was told she needed a heart transplant, family and friends were unable to give the 24 hour a day care she needed to help her recover post-transplant. But still she persisted.

She has always kept focused on giving back and the bright future in front of her. Evie says her transplant has given her a “second chance to experience life at its fullest and to give back to future recipients”. As she just celebrated her 17thyear with h

er new heart, she has certainly given recent recipients renewed hope. She volunteers multiple times a week to give back in honor of her donor and to show other transplant recipients that there is life after transplant.

Evie is looking forward to the whole experience of the transplant games in August. As a young athlete, her dreams of playing basketball in the Olympics or in the WNBA were dashed with her first open heart surgery. But she now looks forward to competing in the Transplant Games of America in Salt Lake City where she’ll compete in Pickle Ball and Corn Hole. We wish her the best of luck!

Gregory Welsh, heart recipient and donor family

Gregory Welsh received a heart transplant 7 years ago. He has experienced both sides of organ donation as he lost his wife in a car accident 15 years before his transplant.  He knows the feelings of loss from the donor side and now the joy and gratitude from receiving the gift of life. He remembers his donor by carrying his photo in his briefcase. His transplant has allowed him to attend his daughter’s graduation from ASU with a master’s degree, give back by volunteering with New Life Society, and even got to ride on a float in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California!  His donor, Fernando was memorialized on the float with his picture made of flowers and other natural materials. 

Gregory enjoys keeping an active lifestyle, especially now that he is feeling better with his new heart. He kept up being active even while waiting for transplant while hooked up to the “Freedom Driver”, a portable device that kept him alive during his wait. He spent three months on the machine but continued to exercise to get stronger in preparation for his transplant. He also went to picnics, shopping, rehab, and even to plays, where the theater made special accommodations for him to plug in his “Freedom Driver”.

Gregory competed as a part of Transplant Team Arizona in the 2014 Transplant Games of America in Houston, Texas where he competed in darts and mixed doubles bowling where he earned bronze medals in both events.  He received a Silver medal with partner Ramsey Harris in Cornhole in the 2016 Ohio Games.  And he looks forward to competing in Salt Lake City this summer.

Ed Ozier, Kidney Recipient

When I was 6 months old my Grandmother, from Italy, died of kidney disease. When I was 12 years old my Father died of Kidney disease.

At the time of my Father’s death the first 4 dialysis machines were in Seattle, WA,  our hometown.

To be on those new machines, there were requirements such as being a contributing member of society, having a job and other things, like all around good guy.  I was fortunate to be one of those guys!

From high school to the Army and then through college, I endured random Gout attacks due to my low functioning kidneys.  Life was tough.  With only 16 units left to graduate from Northern Arizona University, the gout attacks became quite severe. My wife carried me, in the snow,  to a doctors office where I was told to get out of town and see a kidney doctor right away.

So then we moved to the Phoenix area. I saw the first Transplant and nephrologists doctors in Phoenix.  They watched me for 9 years until I needed dialysis in 1982.

My first kidney transplant was in 1982.  That kidney lasted 14 years. My second kidney transplant was in 2002. That kidney lasted 14 years. My third kidney transplant was in 2015. That kidney is going the distance, as it is from a 34 year old man!

I have been on dialysis 3 times for a total of 6 years.

My wife of 47 years as been has held me strong during all those years.  I’m so blessed to have her.  We also have  large support from our Christian Church.  We have 2 daughters, 3 granddaughters, and 1 grandson.

I very excited to be a part of the Transplant games in Salt Lake City.  I will be playing Table Tennis!

Jill Bowers, Kidney Recipient

1998 Transplant from Living Donor, George Bowers
2012 Transplant from Living Donor,  Katie Moorhead

“Lucky me!  That is my comment every time I’m asked about my kidney transplants!  Even today, I’m overwhelmed by the generosity of my two living donors.

After being diagnosed with end stage renal disease in 1992, I was fortunate to have my best friend George, who also happens to be my husband, donate a kidney to me on June 3, 1998!  Within days, we were back to our active life style.  We joined Team AZ and participated in our first transplant games at Orlando in 2000.  Although I won medals in tennis and biking, the real victory for us was showing appreciation to donors and donor families!

Then came 2012 when my kidney began failing.  A former student of mine, Katie Moorhead, stepped forward and offered to donate her kidney to me!  On July 25, 2012, I received my second kidney transplant.  I’m still overwhelmed that my ‘former 8th grade student’ (when I was the principal at her school) gave me my second gift of life!Having participated in nine transplant games, I continue to enjoy the friendly competition in biking, tennis, and now pickleball.  Yet, the true gratification comes from those who chose donation in times of crisis!  I thank every person who tells me their donation story.  They are the real heroes, along with my two angels George and Katie!”

Cornhole

My name is Ramsey Harris. I have been competing in the Transplant Games of America with Team Arizona since 2004, and in corn hole since 2014, where I won a gold in singles play and a silver in doubles play the first year, a silver in doubles the next year, a gold in doubles this last year, and a silver in singles in the 1st. annual 2019 Arizona regional games. I have not coached before, but I think we can get through it, and have fun. I had a kidney transplant in 1996. The kidney was given to me by my dad, and lasted 12 years before rejection. I was on dialysis for 12 years, then I finally received a pancreas and kidney transplant on May 13th. 2019, and I am doing great, thank God.

Golf

Rich Morgan.  Greetings from Western Pennsylvania!  I received my “Gift of Life” in November of 1999.  After receiving my kidney transplant, I became an advocate for organ donation joining up with our local OPO to do speaking events.

I have competed at every Transplant Games since then, as a member of Team Alleghenies Transplant.  My sport is golf.  I have been around the game of golf, whether as a caddie, retail sales and of course playing the game, since I was 14.

I am looking forward to sharing some of my experiences with all of you on December 5th. Till then, Stay Well, Stay Strong, Stay Safe

Youth Olympiad

Melissa McQueen is Executive Director of Transplant Families, based in Arizona, who works with parents and caregivers of children being listed for or already have received a lifesaving organ transplant to help guide them to support, education, and assistance to help them through this very difficult time.

Melissa believes that education and support bring hope and healing for families.   She is honored to volunteer with the OPTN/UNOS in their Pediatric Committee and their Data Advisory Committee where she helped co-author “What Every Parent Needs to Know”.  She has also been selected as leadership with Quality Improvement Collaboratives ACTION Learning Network (pediatric cardiac QI based out of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital) and Starzl Learning Network (pediatric liver QI based out of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center) to give input and help co-create materials for clinicians and families.  She worked on the spearheading committee that helped Donate Life America create National Pediatric Transplant Week (every year on the last week of every April).  She is the charter chair of the Heart Center Family Advisory Council and Alumni Family Advisory Council at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.   She is proud volunteer and editor of the newsletter for Transplant Community Alliance.

Melissa is a trained developer/engineer by trade who has worked at companies such as Honeywell – Aeronautics Division, APS, Wells Fargo, and Phoenix Children’s Hospital.  Most recently, she helped to develop “My journey with” applications covering patient education from diabetes to transplant for newly diagnosed families.  Melissa holds a Bachelor’s in Computer Information Systems from DeVry University.

When Melissa is not working, she loves hiking and traveling with her college sweetheart and husband, Brandon, and spending time with their three beautiful children: Alex, Maddie, and Dylan.  Dylan received his gift of life (heart) at 8 months old and is now a healthy and happy 12-year-old.  Melissa and her family attended their first Transplant Games in 2018 in Salt Lake City.

Track & Field, Basketball, Volleyball

My name is Ben Dao and I compete for Team NorCal. I have competed in 2 US Transplant Games in both Cleveland 2016 and Salt Lake City 2018.  I also attended 2 World Transplant Games in Spain 2017 and England 2019. I’ve been very fortunate to win over 20 US medals in Track & Field, Bowling, Pickleball and 2 World medals in Basketball and Bowling. I received my kidney from a deceased donor on September 24, 2014 at the UC Davis Medical Center in Northern California. I live in Sacramento and work at UC Davis as the Rec Sports Coordinator. I am the eldest of 4 siblings and an uncle to my niece and nephew. In my spare time I enjoy watching and playing sports and attending shows and music festivals. I’m proud to be a 49ers season ticket holder since 2014.

Tennis

Jill Bowers- 1998 Transplant from Living Donor, George Bowers and 2012 Transplant from Living Donor,  Katie Moorhead

“Lucky me!  That is my comment every time I’m asked about my kidney transplants!  Even today, I’m overwhelmed by the generosity of my two living donors.

After being diagnosed with end stage renal disease in 1992, I was fortunate to have my best friend George, who also happens to be my husband, donate a kidney to me on June 3, 1998!  Within days, we were back to our active life style.  We joined Team AZ and participated in our first transplant games at Orlando in 2000.  Although I won medals in tennis and biking, the real victory for us was showing appreciation to donors and donor families!

Then came 2012 when my kidney began failing.  A former student of mine, Katie Moorhead, stepped forward and offered to donate her kidney to me!  On July 25, 2012, I received my second kidney transplant.  I’m still overwhelmed that my ‘former 8th grade student’ (when I was the principal at her school) gave me my second gift of life!

Having participated in nine transplant games, I continue to enjoy the friendly competition in biking, tennis, and now pickleball.  Yet, the true gratification comes from those who chose donation in times of crisis!  I thank every person who tells me their donation story.  They are the real heroes, along with my two angels George and Katie!”

Pickleball

My name is Ben Wilson.  I am the co-captain of the the Arizona Transplant Pickleball team.  I have competed in the US Transplant Games in tennis from 2010 through the present.  Additionally, in 2018 I was a participant in the first Pickleball competition in the US Transplant Games.  My partner and I won gold in Pickleball.   I received a liver transplant at age 60 at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, AZ, in 2009.  After receiving the miracle “Gift of Life”, I retired from my job with Alcon Laboratories and began to participate with Team Arizona and Team USA.  As with most transplant recipients, I feel the need to “pay back” for this life miracle.   In that regard, I have served as treasurer and Team Manager of Transplant Team Arizona, a Director of the Transplant Community Alliance. a volunteer for the Donor Network of Arizona, and various committees associated with transplant.  When the US Transplant Games for 2020 were postponed, I was crushed.  My immediate goals were training for the tennis and pickleball competition in New Jersey.  Now I am focused on Team Arizona and a renewed enthusiasm for the US Games which have been postponed until August 2021.  In the meantime the the 2020 Arizona Transplant Training Games is available for all who wish to become involved.  I hope if you participate, you will find the experience meaningful.

 

Track & Field

Becky Pomerleau, Heart Recipient December 18, 2014 While a member of Team NorCal, my husband, 3 dachshunds and I are riding out the pandemic in sunny Scottsdale, AZ.  Previously I competed in the US Games in Salt Lake City and in the World Games in Newcastle, UK.  I compete in Track & Field, Basketball, Volleyball and Pickleball. As a former collegiate Cross Country and Track athlete for the University of Missouri (Go Tigers!), these games enable me to be a competitive athlete again! I was blessed to win gold in all my Track & Field events in the US games, and scored a gold and two bronze in my first World Games. The course of my life was forever altered in November 2014 when on a ski trip to Colorado celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary I unexpectedly suffered a series of heart attacks caused by Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD) leading to a heart transplant just weeks later.  I have since found my calling advocating for freedom of religion and belief, women’s heart health and organ donation. In my professional life, I serve as Director of Finance Risk Management at PayPal where I co-lead PayPal’s interfaith employee resource group, Believe.  I also love the outdoors, including hiking, running, skiing, and biking. In honor of my heart donor, I have no intention of slowing down!

Bowling & Youth Olympiad

I am Simon Elmore from a Belper in England and I compete for Nottingham Transplant Team and GB. My Kidney Transplant was on 22 Jan 2015 and because of that incredible gift from my Donor John, that I had the privilege to meet his wife Carol and daughter Vicky just over 1 year later to present them with my 1st Gold Medal from the WTG in Argentina Summer 2015 and say  THANK YOU . I have tried many sports and achieved 19 British, 4 European & 6 World (5 Gold) Transplant Games Medals in that time.

My passion is Sports and love FOOTBALL (OK Soccer). My role… Kids & Teens Coordinator for Transplant Sport, helping Transplanted U18s get Active and have Fun throughout the year Safely.  I Love Life

Swimming

My name is Chris Bagley and I compete for Team Michigan. I am quite new to the transplant games but have an extensive history as a swimmer and swim coach.  My first games were in 2019.  I look forward to many more National and International games. I was very fortunate in Newcastle, winning 7 medals and setting 3 world records in the process.  When I am not focused on my own swimming, I am coaching young athletes to reach their goals in the pool. I have coached swimmers of all ages and had great success at all levels.  I received a kidney in 2014 at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.  Besides transplant sports, I enjoy golfing and cheering for Detroit sports teams. I work as a Pre-Kindergarten teacher at the Academy of the Sacred Heart. There is never a dull moment with the young ones!

Swimming

My name is Jillian Best, I was born in London, Ontario where I live with my husband Zach our 2 pugs, Frank and Beans.  My experience with the Transplant games has been very rewarding for me.  Some of my participation has been Canadian Games in Vancouver, British Columbia 2018, World Transplant Games Malaga, Spain 2017, World Transplant Games Newcastle England, 2019.  I was excited to win a total of 13 medals – 8 World Games medals and 5 Canadian Games medals.  The liver transplant I received almost 4.5 years ago. The transplant was done in London at Western University Hospital.  I am a busy and creative hairstylist running my business out of my home.  When I am not swimming or working, I enjoy traveling, reading, being outdoors, and spending time with friends and family.  Currently I am training for a 52km solo swim across Lake Ontario next summer.  This will raise awareness for organ donation, and I want to donate the money to the transplant unit at pital where I received my liver transplant.

Cycling

Hello, my name is Nate Dunn and I’ve been honored to compete as a cyclist in two US games and two World Transplant games.  I received a live donor liver transplant in 2013 from a former student of mine.  This gift has  allowed me to continue a vibrant life with my wife of 15 years and our two young children.  In my free time I love to camp and backpack together with my family.  When I’m on my own I love to ride my bike with friends and jump into local races whenever possible.  In my work life I own Data Driven Athlete which focuses and allows me to coach cyclists.  I’m looking forward to sharing with the greater transplant community

Tennis

My name is Andy Bombeck and I’ve been a proud member of Transplant Team Arizona since 2006. I’ve competed in 7 US Transplant Games and have won 19 metals in tennis; singles, doubles and mixed doubles. Also, even 1 metal in Table Tennis. I’ve also competed in Basketball and Volleyball. On April 11, 2003, my girlfriend, Shari, donated a kidney to me at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, one year later, Shari and I were married. In 2006, we adopted a baby boy from Guatemala named Michael. After thirty years of teaching elementary school,  I retired in 2007. Today, I enjoy playing guitar, traveling, promoting organ donation, and trying to keep up with our 14 year old son. I’ve also written two books about traveling on Amazon called, “Traveler’s Diarrhea” and “More Traveler’s Diarrhea”.

 

Badminton

After being diagnosed with Chronic Glomerulonephritis in 1973 upon the early birth of my daughter, I was fortunate to have the support of family through the early active years of raising our children. Almost ten years later I began hemodialysis and then CAPD (Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis) before my living donor kidney transplant in 1983 at the University of Washington Medical Center. As a 37-year transplant kidney recipient I am most grateful for the healthy and active life I have lived as a result of donation. The TGA (Transplant Games of America) is a powerful forum for the advocacy of organ donation. Donation saves and extends lives and I have been dedicated to helping transplant groups over the years, i.e., serving on NKF Utah board, speaker’s bureau, and more recently two terms on the TGA Athletes Advisory Council and a member of the Quarter Century Club. The Quarter Century Club is comprised of organ recipients of at least 25 years and we march in as a group at the Opening Ceremonies. The last three TGA games my oldest granddaughter, Abbi, accompanied me. These games are such a great forum for public donor awareness and a fun opportunity to meet with others who have been through the same experiences. It is inspiring to gather with fellow athletes on the same journey and we are all most happy to support the cause and each other. Over the years I worked with the National Kidney Foundation in southern California and Utah as an advocate for organ donation. I’ve participated in their transplant games, both domestic and world games, starting with the 1992 U.S. Games in Los Angeles. I participated in Track & Field but enjoy badminton, tennis, table tennis and now pickle ball, TGA’s recently added sport which is my new love. My volunteer position with TTA (Team Transplant Arizona) is as the Diversity Liaison, speaking to interested groups. We hope to involve those of different social and ethnic backgrounds to participate with our team at the TGA, also a great place to start in gathering resources available to those newly diagnosed or whichever stage you are currently in. 

Pickleball

My name is Michele Dabal and I am a 15 year liver transplant recipient. An undetected autoimmune disease, called Still’s Disease caused my acute liver failure in 2005. It was quite a surprise to wake up in a hospital and learn of my liver transplant.

I am a proud member of Team Liberty and Team USA and have been competing since 2008. I have been fortunate to regain my health and participate in 5 US Transplant Games and 3 World Games. At the US Games I earned 18 medals from competing in doubles pickleball, singles and doubles tennis, table tennis, cycling, basketball and corn hole. I attended the summer and winter World Games where I earned 10 medals by competing in singles and doubles tennis, ball toss, Slalom, Super G and Giant Slalom skiing. Post transplant I struggled to walk, so I never thought I would be able to ever compete or ski again. The Transplant Games continue to motivate me to honor my donor, train to get stronger, and assist the members of the transplant and donation community in any way I can.

I am an Independent Consultant supporting various charities that provide mobility, education, food and shelter for children. I am also a part-time pickleball coach and alpine ski instructor.

I love people, animals, cooking, sports and traveling. In June I celebrated 34 years of being married to my high school sweetheart, Greg. We have 2 adult children, and live in New Jersey with our two Portuguese Water Dogs.