This was ‘something to live for’
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When Howard Dell, 51, was told he had three to six months left to live, he didn’t believe the doctors.
Dell is a former professional basketball and football player, a nationally ranked decathlete in the US, has competed in the Olympics and trained eight Olympic gold medallists.
He also featured in US TV shows, The Young and The Restless, That 70s Show, LA Heat and appeared in the film, Totally Blonde.
“I was diagnosed in 2006 with two rare liver diseases, Wilson Disease and primary sclerosing cholangitis. It was end stage liver disease and there was no cure. I just thought the doctors must be kidding,” said the Canadian born athlete.
Dell sold everything he owned and travelled the world looking for a cure.
“I didn’t get on the transplant list because I think I was in denial. Although I was only given three to six months I survived another two years and nine months before I was completely debilitated.”
Dell checked into a hospital in California where he was given days to live. He was lucky enough to get a liver transplant which saved his live.
“I then heard about the World Transplant Games and decided to compete in the nationals in 2010. I thought this was something to live for.”
He said preparation for the games helped him recover physically and emotionally. He competed in the games seven months later when he won three golds and one silver.
He decided to participate in the World Championships in Sweden in 2011 where he was again awarded three golds and a silver. He also broke two world records.
“Initially I saw the games as an opportunity to meet other transplantees. It’s important to meet people who’ve gone through it and are doing well. But becoming physically fit is also important for your psyche.”