Reena Raju from Bangalore has undergone two heart transplant successfully. Incidentally, she has been listed in the Limca Book of Records as the first woman from India to participate in the World Transplant Games held between June-July 2017 in Malaga, Spain.
Spreading Awareness On Organ Donations
The 38-year-old has been suffering from the acute cardiac disorder. Her first transplant surgery took place in 2009 and the second surgery was conducted in October 2017. Based on her experience Reena has been trying to spread awareness about organ donation through her foundation Light a Life.
The Limca record certificate that mentions her name says, “Reena Raju is the first Indian woman to participate and be the flag bearer in the opening ceremony at the World Transplant Games 2017 in Malaga, Spain. She represented the country in 100m sprint, and badminton mixed doubles… She is also the first Indian to undergo a successful repeat heart transplant.”
The certificate was given to Reena in April this year. The Limca Book of Records 2019 also features her on its recent paperback edition.
Reena Believes In Living A Full Life
Reena suffered from a heart muscle condition called dilated cardiomyopathy that decreases the ability of the organ to pump blood. It was the year 2006 and there were very few hospitals that knew about heart transplant at that time.
Her first heart transplant was conducted successfully in November 2009 at Dr. KM Cherian Heart Foundation’s Frontier Lifeline Hospital in Chennai.
The gusty woman has always loved sports and was a hockey player. So post-transplant she continued to live her life and did not stop from participating actively in sports.
She was one of the participants in Bengaluru World 0K in 2009 in the 5.7km run. Reena says, “I have enjoyed traveling, trekking, parasailing, cycling, 15ft underwater sea walk, and a 13,000ft tandem skydive. I believe in living a full life post a heart transplant.”
Organ transplantation is not easy. It leads to some medical challenges and infections. Reena too faced all such issues but never let her illness take control of her life. She says, “For me, it’s always been about looking past the challenges, looking past my illness and living a full life.”
Every transplanted heart comes with a term. It can be a day, weeks, months or even years. Her first heart lasted for eight years (2009-2017). In 2017, the problem of acute cardiac issue surfaced again. So she once again underwent a heart transplant in September 2017.
Promoting Sports Among Organ Recipients
This second transplant is working good for her and now she is working as a team manager for the next World Transplant Games in Newcastle, UK.
Reena Raju is coordinating from India for these games to be held in August 2019. While throwing light on the games and the organization behind it, Reena says, “The All India Transplant Games Federation is a private organization and has not registered with the sports ministry of India. Hence, they are not sponsoring the participating candidates for the upcoming World Transplant Games.”
Even though organ donation has started to pick up in India, the organ recipients, as well as the medical communities, do not have the awareness about sports participation post-transplant, says Reena.