Countywide : Transplant Recipients to Compete in Games

Orange County residents Travis Finnern and Paul Seville are among the more than 1,200 athletes from across the country who will compete in the National Kidney Foundation’s 1994 U.S. Transplant Games.

This biennial, Olympic-style event will take place Wednesday through Sunday at Emory University in Atlanta.

All the athletes are former transplant patients who have received donated organs such as kidneys, livers, hearts and lungs. Among the sporting events they will compete in are track and field, basketball, bicycling, racquetball, swimming, tennis and table tennis.

Finnern, a 22-year-old Costa Mesa resident, is an avid tennis player and surfer who received a kidney from his father in 1986. Finnern said he and his father are doing well eight years after the surgery. “I was on dialysis for about a year” before the transplant, and suffered from anemia during that period, he said. Finnern said his health improved dramatically after the surgery, and he was able to play on the Costa Mesa High School tennis team.


Finnern is the court director at Seacliff Tennis Lodge in Huntington Beach and a music major at Golden West College. He will compete in singles and doubles tennis and possibly in basketball at the Transplant Games.

Seville, a 28-year-old Irvine resident, received a kidney transplant in 1979 at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. He is a medical school student planning to specialize in kidney diseases.

Seville said he had experienced kidney problems since birth and never knew “what it was like to be normal.”

“But once I received my transplant, I felt like Superman, and my self-confidence soared,” Seville said.


He will compete in track and field and table tennis.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, more than 34,000 people are currently waiting for organ transplants, including 5,000 in California. Six to seven die each day because of a lack of organ donors, the foundation reports.