Double-Lung Transplant Recipient Heads to Spain to Compete in World Transplant Games

The hit song from 1971 “I’ve Never Been to Spain” by Three Dog Night holds true for most of us, but not for LifeGift Ambassadors of Hope Tina Rueles and her mom, Martha Rueles!  

The two jetted off to Malaga, Spain, on June 23 so that Tina, a double-lung recipient, could join the more than 2,000 athletes from 52 countries around the world to compete in the World Transplant Games. 

Tina competed over a three-day period in singles golf, mixed doubles in bowling and then doubles golf. The weather was brutally hot for the competitors, and Tina and a few others had to pull themselves out of the game due to heat exhaustion in singles golf. Not to be deterred, she was back at it again the next day. Winning medals were not in the cards this year, but she is already making plans for the Transplant Games of America in the summer of 2018 in Salt Lake City, Utah, and the World Transplant Games again in NewcastleGateshead in the United Kingdom in 2019. 

As time allowed, Tina and Martha took side trips. One day, their tour took them along the coastline to Gibraltar and then they visited the Cave of David. Both were stunning, and just across the water, they could actually see Africa. 

The real reason Tina stays active and constantly encourages others to become organ and tissue donors is all thanks to her own donor, Victoria, a beautiful 15-year-old girl who passed away way too young. Tina and her family had the rare privilege to meet her donor’s family in May of this year just prior to leaving for Spain. As she and her mom took one last bus tour around the beautiful city of Malaga, they both became emotional at the irony of it all. They discovered the patron saint of Malaga was … yes, you guessed it, Saint Victoria.

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