Greg Gelinas

I am hope.

At the age of 54, I am finally experiencing good health.  My medical journey as, at times, given me reason to give up. I refused to believe that I wouldn’t live long enough to see my children graduate high school or begin their way in the world. I couldn’t believe that I had many more years yet to live. ~Greg

In 1977, at the age of 18, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.  I have endured many surgeries and hospital stays over the past 35 years, including eye surgery, a kidney transplant and removal of the kidney after failure.  In 1999 a dear friend, Ken Sawtelle, donated his kidney to me and in 2004 I received a pancreas transplant thanks to my donor, Michael. The donation was the end of my battle with diabetes and, while I was in the ICU for several more weeks due to complication, it was the start of my new life. ~Greg

Greg Gelinas and Ken Sawtelle
Greg Gelinas and Ken Sawtelle

My transplant journey’s defining moment was when I was in ICU with an internal bleed that would not stop. My transplant surgeon and transplant doctor had just left the room, shaking their heads, and my transplant nurse was about to leave, when I grabbed her arm and looked her in the eyes and said, “DON’T GIVE UP ON ME!” They didn’t and I’m here to tell you about it. ~Greg

The world is not big enough and there aren’t enough hours in a day for me to make up for time lost. I have seen my children graduate from high school and college!  My wife and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary with a Caribbean cruise. At 53, I feel I am healthier than I was at 18.  I exercise at the gym and swim laps 5-6 times per week.  I have competed in triathlons and charity bike rides, including the 180 mile, three day, Trek Across Maine.  My favorite athletic event is the Transplant Games, an athletic Olympic style event for transplant athletes.  I have competed in swimming, cycling, track and field and golf. At the 8 games I participated in, I have met thousands of transplant athletes, living life to the fullest, in wonderful locations including Thailand and Sweden.

~Greg

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