Donor front of mind for World Transplant Games athlete

Courtesy of The Daily Telegraph.

For heart transplant recipient Josh Lindenthaler, competing in next year’s World Transplant Games will be a way to “honour” the donor who changed his life.

“Yes, it’s something I’ve wanted to do, but I also want to honour them for this gift and make the most of it,” the 39-year-old physiotherapist said.

Just nine months after receiving his new heart in Sydney, Mr Lindenthaler is training to compete in multiple cycling events at the Games, which will be held in Perth in April. Entry is open to all transplant recipients, and donor families and living donors can take part in select events.

The Canberran also plans to complete the sprint triathlon – a 500m swim, a 20km bike ride and a 5km run. But before all that, a half-Ironman event and the Australian Transplant Games are on his radar.

He said none of this would have been possible without his transplant.

An implanted defibrillator and pacemaker had helped Mr Lindenthaler manage his heart muscle disease, dilated cardiomyopathy, for years after his 2008 diagnosis.

But by 2021, his pacemaker could not prevent him from suffering “severe heart rhythms” and joining the transplant waitlist became his only option.

He was placed on the list in July and in September, his mum found him “passed out on the floor” of their home.

“She did CPR for about 16 minutes, as far as I’m aware, until the ambos came,” he said.

Mr Lindenthaler then remained in hospital until he was transplanted in October.

Following a difficult recovery – compounded by the fact his family could not visit and post-transplant rehab was limited due to Covid restrictions – Mr Lindenthaler is now “doing really good”.

He urges Australians to take the minute required to register as organ and tissue donors – “even if they think they’re not eligible”.

“The doctors are there (to determine that),” he said. “One person can save up to seven lives.”