Meet four patients who have the Olympic spirit

They may not be Olympians, but they have overcome great challenges to keep competing in sports…

As the summer Olympics begin this week across the pond, you don’t have to look any farther than people right here to be inspired to do great things.

These four patients from Cincinnati Children’s have the Olympic spirit, even if they don’t have gold medals to prove it.

Playing in the ‘Transplant Games’

Asia Werner, a heart transplant recipient, is competing in this summer’s “Transplant Games” in Michigan.

Asia Werner was born 9 weeks premature and had a defective heart. Without a transplant, her family feared she wouldn’t live past her first birthday.

That was when her family learned of another family’s loss 500 miles away. A baby in Dubuque, Iowa, died of a genetic disorder that attacked his brain and left him unable to breathe. Asia got his heart.

Today, she is a 12-year-old athlete competing in 10 categories in Michigan’s “Transplant Games,” a celebration of life for transplant recipients. Asia says her inspiration is her donor, who gave her a heart of gold.

Paying it forward through marathons

Devon Buesking runs marathons to raise money to fight ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

Devon Buesking found out in high school that she had ulcerative colitis, a form of inflammatory bowel disease.

The painful condition, similar to Crohn’s disease, made her so sick she had to spend months at a time in the hospital at Cincinnati Children’s. She had to have part of her colon removed.

Now that she’s better, she’s paying it forward, running marathons to raise money to help other kids beat the same disease.

 

Recognizing the greatest gifts in life

Tyler Scheid says a kidney transplant taught him what was important in life.

Tyler Scheid knew since he was in junior high that he might someday need a kidney transplant. In high school, he started seeing Dr. Prasad Devarajan, a specialist at Cincinnati Children’s.

Tyler went on to excel in sports and push himself physically in high school and college. By his junior year of college, his kidney failure progressed, and he needed a transplant. His older brother, Jared, was a match.

Their parents, Cindy and Tim, had a good idea of what to expect. Cindy is the recipient of two kidney transplants herself.

Tyler says the challenges have made them appreciate life. “Organ donation is, quite possibly, one of the greatest gifts you can give somebody,” he says.

Gymnast a stronger competitor after injury

Zoe Bruce says breaking both elbows made her a stronger competitor in gymnastics.

Zoe Bruce, a competitive gymnast, was practicing on the high bars two years ago when she fell and broke and dislocated both elbows.

Today at age 11, her competitive spirit is unbroken.

She says her injury made her stronger.

Her mother says she has a drive within her and this experience molded her character for who she is going to become as an adult.

 

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Tanya Leach

About the Author: Tanya Leach

Tanya Bricking Leach is a writer and video producer at Cincinnati Children's and a former newspaper reporter who has covered crime for The Cincinnati Enquirer, sports for USA Today, island life for The Honolulu Advertiser, food for The Associated Press and stories about storms and surfers for the New York Times. Tanya is the author of the military-themed travel guide "Hawaii for Heroes." She is married to a military veteran and is the mother of two young boys. When she's not wired in at work, she enjoys unplugging with her family on their sailboat.

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