Bengaluru woman to be India’s first at global transplant games in Spain

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Bengaluru: Reena Raju, 35, from Bengaluru, continues to achieve whatever she has set her heart on. Karnataka’s first woman recipient of a heart donation, Reena is now gearing up to become India’s first woman organ transplant recipient to take part in a World Transplant Games meet. She will represent India in badminton (mixed doubles) and 100-meter run at the 21st edition of the biannual event that took off at Malaga, Spain, on June 25.
Balveer Singh from Uttar Pradesh and Dharmendra Soti from Lucknow are the two other Indians taking part in the eight-day biennial event organized by the World Transplant Games Federation (WTGF).
“I was keen on taking part in the WTGF meet and had prepared myself,” Reena, who had undergone transplant in Chennai in November 2009 after being diagnosed with cardio myopathy (heart muscle disease), told TOI.
Reena has been in the vanguard of efforts to help organ recipients. Light a Life Foundation formed by her has been helping many organ recipients by giving away medicines to them.
A hockey player before the transplant, Reena has always reveled in posing challenges to herself. She tried her hand at underwater diving and skydiving abroad in the recent years. Reena trained herself for the sprint and took professional help. “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.
She underwent a series of mandatory medical tests to prove her fitness and ability to take part in the WTGF which was required at the entry level.
Dr. K.M. Cherian, cardiac surgeon from Frontier Lifeline Hospital, who conducted the transplant for Reena, 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,” rued Reena.
The WTGF has been staging international sporting events and promoting education around transplantation to raise public awareness and increase organ donation.

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