Meayres strikes gold at 2002 Transplant Games
By By J.W. Greenhill, Hartselle Enquirer
Life is a celebration for Sarah Meayres.
Twelve years after receiving a life-saving liver transplant in 1995, Meayres recently took part in the 2002 U.S. Transplant Games held at Walt Disney World in Florida. She returned as a gold-medalist in bowling and a participant in 3 on 3 basketball and volleyball for Team Alabama.
Meayres, pronounced "meers," was born with a condition called Biliarey Artesia that gradually destroyed her liver. She was running out of time when Dr. Stephen Bynum of Birmingham located a suitable liver in Puerto Rico and performed her transplant operation in December, 1995.
Since then Sarah's recovery has been outstanding. She will be a seventh-grader at Hartselle Junior High next fall and regularly participates in bowling, volleyball, basketball and softball.
She recently attended the Alabama Gala for the American Liver Foundation with Dr. Bynum in May.
Meayres, along with mother Lynn and sister Meredith and brother Trey flew to Florida to take part in the U.S. Transplant Games, an Olympic-style athletic competition for life-saving transplant patients during the last week of June.
After arriving on Wednesday, the Meayres took part in the opening ceremonies.
National Basketball Association player Sean Elliott, a kidney-transplant recipient spoke along with Olympic snowboarder Chris Klug and actor Larry Hagman, who had a liver transplant in 1995.
Meayres' first day of competition got off to a rough start, even though it produced a gold medal for her. Surprisingly, participants in the bowling competition had to leave the Wide World of Sports complex on the DisneyWorld property and travel an hour by bus to their venue.
Meayres won the competition for girls 14 years old and under with scores of 168, 122 and 87, beating out her nearest competitor from Southern California.
The return bus ride from bowling to the sports complex almost made Sarah and another teammate late for her next competition – 3-on-3 basketball.
While the Alabama team did not have to forfeit, they did not fare well against a rested and taller team, Sarah recalled.
Meayres final competition was as part of the Alabama volleyball squad on the next day. The Alabama squad took on teams from Pittsburgh, Pa. and Missouri and Kansas and bowed out early.
After finishing the volleyball competition, Sarah and family borrowed a line from famous winners and "went to DisneyWorld," enjoying the attractions a several of the entertainment theme parks.
Most impressive for the young competitor was the "Tower of Terror" at the MGM theme park. The Meayres also visited the Magic Kingdom and the Animal Kingdom parks before taking part in the closing ceremonies and returning to Hartselle.
"We learned a lot from participating," Sarah's Mother Lynn Meayers said. "Sarah, is unlike many liver transplant recipients who have ongoing complications with the surgery. She is healthy and doesn't display many characteristic problems."
But their experience with Saray has made the Meayres' family keenly aware of the need for organ donors.
It is important that prospective donors talk with their families before any donor situation occurs, Lynn Meayres said. "After you are gone, your family can change what you directed about organ donation. You have to talk with them beforehand."
Meayres said, many organs are lost to prospective transplant recipients because family members refuse donation during the emotionally charged time following the death of a family member.