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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Two-time transplant recipient doubly grateful for golf success

Sunday, August 5, 2012

David and Donna Orr attended the Transplant Games of America in Grand Rapids, Mich., where David received a silver medal for golfing.
(Submitted photo)
While the international Olympic competitions have been ongoing in London, a Bedford County man stepped up to a memorial wall this week and wrote, "Thank you Keshawn Brown."

In 2009, the New Jersey resident was scuffling with some friends on the street. He fell, fatally striking his head on a curb. He was 21 years old, and he carried a signed organ donor's card in his wallet.

His lungs now power David Orr's golf swing, and allowed him to bring home a silver medal in golfing after competing in the Transplant Games of America in Grand Rapids, Mich. Competition is open to anyone who has received a solid organ transplant or bone marrow donation, and to donors.

Real achievements

He was one of two athletes from Tennessee. Golf events were held at The Meadows at Grand Valley State University, and a field of 25 men aged 60 to 69 played in the organ recipient category. Overall, 70 golfers competed.

According to his wife Donna, of the four men who stepped up to the tee box in the Championship Flight on the final day, one was a heart transplant recipient, one had received a liver, another a kidney, and David had received a pair of lungs -- twice. "It was a huge moment," said Donna, of their accomplishment.

David. 62, finished four strokes behind the gold medal winner after two rounds of play in the championship flight, scoring an 83 in round one and 77 in the second.

David received a double-lung transplant at Duke University in 2006. He recovered and had resumed his active life, placing sixth in his division in the Transplant Games in 2008.

Setback overcome

Around Christmas of that year, David contracted Respiratory Syncytial Virus -- and worsened over the next eight months, ultimately requiring a second double-lung transplant at Cleveland Clinic.

David's recovery is remarkable, according to Dr. Marie Budev, medical director of the clinic's Lung Transplantation Program. "It's harder to do a second transplant, the body has been through so much already." In fact, it's more difficult for recipients to receive a second transplant. "Very few actually qualify."

The Orrs have become friends of Budev and other staff members at the Cleveland Clinic. The relationships developed over the course of a transplant procedure are long-lasting, even among medical staff.


"It's very special and intimate. Along the way, you go through every emotion -- the grieving, the elation. It becomes a very personal relationship," said Budev.

To overcome the medical challenges of the last six years is one thing. To compete and win a medal in competition, another entirely.

When David said, "Ain't it great to be alive?" after the games, he knew, better than most, the value of the gift of life he had been given.

To become an organ donor, visit: www.donatelifetn.org.